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"Gender-Neutral" Pre-School in Sweden Accused of Mind Control 2011-07-04 0:00
Egalia's playground is designed to avoid gender bias
Staff at Swedish kindergarten told not to refer to children as 'him' or 'her' to avoid stereotyping
At the Egalia pre-school, staff avoid using words such as "him" or "her" and address the 33 youngsters as "friends" rather than girls and boys. From the colour and placement of toys to the choice of books, every detail is planned to make sure the children are not exposed to sexual stereotypes.
The taxpayer-funded pre-school, which opened last year in the liberal Sodermalm district of Stockholm, is among the most radical examples of Sweden's efforts to engineer equality between the sexes. Breaking down gender roles is a core mission in the national curriculum for pre-schools, underpinned by the theory that even in highly egalitarian-minded Sweden, society gives boys an unfair edge.
Many pre-schools have hired "gender pedagogues" to help staff identify language and behaviour that risk reinforcing stereotypes. Some parents, however, worry that things have gone too far. An obsession with obliterating gender roles, they say, could make the children confused and ill-prepared to face the world outside kindergarten.
"Different gender roles aren't problematic as long as they are equally valued," says Tanja Bergkvist, a 37-year-old blogger and a leading voice against what she calls "gender madness" in Sweden. Those bent on shattering gender roles "say there's a hierarchy where everything that boys do is given higher value, but I wonder who decides that it has higher value," she says. "Why is there higher value in playing with cars?"
At Egalia – it means "equality" – boys and girls play together with a toy kitchen, waving plastic utensils and pretending to cook. One boy hides inside the toy stove, his head popping out through a hole. Lego bricks are placed next to the kitchen, to make sure the children draw no mental barriers between cooking and building.
Director: Lotta Rajalin says the staff try to help the children discover new ideas when they play
The school's director, Lotta Rajalin, says Egalia fosters an environment tolerant of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. From a bookcase she pulls out a story about two male giraffes who are sad to be childless until they come across an abandoned crocodile egg. Nearly all the children's books deal with homosexual couples, single parents or adopted children.
Egalia's methods are controversial; some say they amount to mind control. Ms Rajalin says the staff have received threats from people apparently upset about the pre-school's use of black dolls. But she says that there is a long waiting list for admission and only one couple has taken their child out of the school.
Sweden has promoted women's rights for decades, and more recently was a pioneer in Europe in allowing gay and lesbian couples to legalise their partnerships and adopt children. Gender studies permeate academic life in Sweden. Ms Bergkvist noted on her blog that the state-funded Swedish Science Council had granted £50,000 for a post-doctoral fellowship aimed at analysing "the trumpet as a symbol of gender".
Jay Belsky, a child psychologist at the University of California, said he is unaware of any other school like Egalia and questioned whether it was the right way to go. "The kind of things that boys like to do – run around and turn sticks into swords – will soon be disapproved of," he said. "So gender neutrality at its worst is emasculating maleness."
Obama Arms ISIS-Linked Militants, Pushes Gun Control On Very Same Day 2015-10-07 6:19
President Obama authorized a shipment of guns to the Syrian opposition, a.k.a. ISIS-linked militants, on the exact same day he demanded more gun control in response to the Oregon shooting.
Even more shocking, Obama did the very same thing after the 2013 D.C. Navy Yard shooting.
The president approved the re-arming of the Syrian opposition, which predominantly consists of ISIS and its ...
'No Borders' Activist Gang Raped by Migrants, Pressured into Silence to not 'Damage Causeâ€™ 2015-10-07 6:37
Colleagues are alleged to have said that reporting the crime would set back their struggle for a borderless world.
The ‘No Borders’ activist had dedicated a month of her life to helping migrants. Her group was stationed between Italy and France in Ponte San Ludovico in Ventimiglia when the atrocity occurred, according to reports from local papers La Stampa and Il Secolo XIX, ...
Muslims Declare Jihad on Dogs in Europe 2015-10-07 3:18
A Dutch Muslim politician has called for a ban on dogs in The Hague, the third-largest city in the Netherlands.
Islamic legal tradition holds that dogs are "unclean" animals, and some say the call to ban them in Holland and elsewhere represents an attempted encroachment of Islamic Sharia law in Europe.
This latest canine controversy -- which the Dutch public has greeted ...
Islamic State 'blows up Palmyra arch' 2015-10-06 21:37
Palmyra's Arch of Triumph was built by the Romans in the second Century AD
Islamic State militants in northern Syria have blown up another monument in the ancient city of Palmyra, officials and local sources say.
The Arch of Triumph was "pulverised" by the militants who control the city, a Palmyra activist told AFP news agency.
It is thought to have been ...