A Swedish pre-school has completely re-designed itself to fight gender bias.
Staff at the ‘Egalia’ preschool call their students ‘friends’, and are to avoid using ‘him’ and ‘her’. Books and toys have been carefully selected, and colors and organization have been scrutinized. The staff have also invented a new genderless word, ‘Hen’, which they use to refer to anyone who is visiting the nursery.
Sweden has made breaking down gender roles a core part of the National Curriculum for Preschoolers, driven by their view that society gives boys an unfair advantage. This taxpayer-funded preschool is the most extreme example of this mission so far, accepting children between the ages of 1 and 6. It’s aim is to create complete equality between the sexes from as young as possible, including childhood.
Egalia – a word which means equality – encourages children to play with all the toys. Boys and girls play together in the kitchen, with cars and building blocks nearby, so no mental barriers between male and female toys are built.
The nursery goes further then just equal sexes. Most of the children’s books are are homosexuals, adoption and single parents. One features a giraffe couple who don’t have a child, but come across an abandoned crocodile egg, which they raise as their own.
Staff also encourage openness during playtime. When the children argue about who will be mum and who will be dad, they suggest having two mums, or three dads.
While Egalia has a long waiting list, and the staff claim only one family have withdrawn their child due to the nurseries radical change, there is resistance to the idea.
The nursery has received threats from racists over their inclusion of black dolls – all the dolls in the nursery are also anatomically correct.
It has received $80,000 from the Swedish Science Council, who is conducting research on gender roles.
Yahoo News reported a child psychologist from the University of California, Jay Belsky, questioning whether Egalia had the right idea.
“The kind of things boys like to do – run around and turn sticks into swords – will soon be disapproved of. So gender neutrality at its worst is emasculating maleness.”
It is thought that Egalia is the first nursery of it’s kind in Sweden.