No "boys" and "girls" at gender-neutral preschool in Sweden
Swedish children from a kindergarden wear their obligatory traffic safety vests as they play in a Stockholm park. At the "Egalia" preschool in Sweden, staff refer to the children as "friends" instead of "boys" and "girls," in an attempt to breakdown gender stereotypes for boys and girls. (SVEN NACKSTRAND/AFP/Getty Images)
June 26th, 2011
12:45 PM ET

No "boys" and "girls" at gender-neutral preschool in Sweden

Editor's Note: Check out this GlobalPost blog for more offbeat global news.

preschool in Sweden wants to eliminate gender bias by referring to children as “friends,” instead of girls and boys, and avoiding gender-specific pronouns such as “him” or “her.”

At the taxpayer-funded “Egalia” preschool in Stockholm, which opened last year for children ages 1-6, boys and girls play together with a toy kitchen, which is located next to the Lego bricks, the Associated Press reports.

They read books featuring gay and lesbian couples, single parents and adopted children, instead of fairy tales such as “Cinderella” or “Snow White,” which are rife with gender stereotypes.

School staff try to avoid masculine and feminine references in their speech, for example by not using the Swedish pronouns “han” or “hon” for him or her, and instead using the genderless word “hen,” which doesn’t formally exist in the Swedish language.

"Society expects girls to be girlie, nice and pretty and boys to be manly, rough and outgoing," teacher Jenny Johnsson told the AP. "Egalia gives them a fantastic opportunity to be whoever they want to be."

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A 2010 report by the World Economic Forum on the global gender gap found that Sweden and three other Nordic countries lead the world when it comes to gender equality. Sweden is also considered a pioneer in legalizing gay and lesbian partnerships.

A Canadian couple recently drew international attention for their decision to try and raise a genderless baby by not telling anyone whether their child is a boy or girl.

When Storm was born, the couple from Toronto told friends and family that they had decided not to share the baby’s sex.

Read: Penguin lost in New Zealand offered a ride home.

“When the baby comes out, even the people who love you the most and know you so intimately, the first question they ask is, ‘Is it a girl or a boy?’” mother Kathy Witterick explained to the Toronto Star. “If you really want to get to know someone, you don’t ask what’s between their legs.”

Storm’s brothers Jazz, 5, and Kio, 2, choose their own clothes and hairstyles. Jazz prefers to wear his hair long and in three braids, and his favorite color is pink.

Read more at Global Post.

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Topics: Culture • Europe

soundoff (172 Responses)
  1. mercenary76

    Well this should keep the shrinks in business .

    July 20, 2011 at 5:00 pm | Reply
  2. WTTF08080

    " I find your lack of faith disturbing " . (STAR WARS) .
    TTHIS is Appaling to me on a personal level. We are Created as either MALE or FEMALE in the womb ;
    Only in this unnatural world in which we currently exist can this form of behavior be taken into context ;
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    July 22, 2011 at 2:35 pm | Reply
  3. Derp

    Why in the hell are we letting the hippies win people? We can't let this become the norm or we are going to have to deal with a bunch of confused kids who have no idea who they are.

    September 8, 2011 at 10:56 am | Reply
    • Fiona

      I think boys and girls are very different not just plsaicylhy, but emotionally as well. They like different things, respond to events differently and are wonderful in their own unique and separate ways. While this school and parents who raise their kids in this manner are trying to celebrate their child’s diversity are really creating a system that molds kids together to be the same. I also believe it is extremely dangerous to experiment with children, which is what this school and many parents are doing. They are trying new methods to parenting that have not shown themselves to be effective and they are trusting in something that they believe will have a positive effect when it can very easily ruin these children’s lives.

      March 13, 2012 at 10:56 pm | Reply
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    December 11, 2011 at 10:26 pm | Reply
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    Nothing shocking about this. Sweden also has a feminist political party that wants to make it illegal for men to urinate while standing up. I'M NOT KIDDING. You have to wonder if this school has adopted this absurdity.

    June 23, 2012 at 8:08 pm | Reply
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