In the latest attempt toward creating a gender-neutral world, a preschool in Sweden has banned the words “him” and “her.” The school – called Egalia – has developed a comprehensive policy to avoid instilling gender stereotypes in its students – from the colour of the toys to the careful placement of building blocks next to the kitchen, to avoid any cooking-versus-construction bias. There’s no Snow White on the shelves – or any fairy tales for that matter – nearly all the books deal with homosexual couples, single parents or adopted children.
“Society expects girls to be girlie, nice and pretty, and boys to be manly, rough and outgoing,” one teacher told the Daily Mail. The school’s mission is to break down gender roles, based on the idea that stereotypes, particularly the ones that gives boys an edge, are ingrained early.
The school is funded by taxpayers and teaches kids from ages 1 to 6. School officials say they have a waiting list, and only one family has dropped out.
But it has its critics. "Different gender roles aren’t problematic as long as they are equally valued,” Tanja Bergkvist, a 37-year-old blogger, told the Associated Press, decrying what she called “gender madness” in Sweden.
Instead of the Swedish han or hon, teachers use the genderless name hen – for example, to refer to any visitor coming to the school.
Now that doesn’t have a bad ring to it. But how would that work in English – would we have to call each other “it?”
Do you think the gender-free movement is going to far? Can you take gender roles out of school? And would you be okay being called “it?”