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."
Turkey's Erdogan threatened to flood Europe with migrants: Greek website 2016-02-09 23:04
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan threatened in November to flood Europe with migrants if European Union leaders did not offer him a better deal to help manage the Middle East refugee crisis, a Greek news website said on Monday.
Publishing what it said were minutes of a tense meeting last November, the euro2day.gr financial news website revealed deep mutual irritation and distrust ...
Will Denmark Be The First Islamic Nation In Europe? 2016-02-09 23:44
Daily headlines prove that Europe is bursting at the seams with Islamists attempting to establish Sharia law and homegrown terror plots. France is ablaze with radicals, ISIS threatens they will send Spain back to the times of the Ottoman Empire, and Britain is much too concerned with appeasing Muslims that they are doing away with their own citizens’ free speech.
'Hamilton' musical: All American founders non-White, but evil King George. I hate musicals! 2016-02-09 22:43
‘Hamilton’, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical about the life of Alexander Hamilton, one of America’s founding fathers, is being performed on Broadway.
You know it’s going to have political undertones, when you read that the first act is titled: “Immigrants : We get the job done!”
In addition to Alexander Hamilton, Miranda’s musical also casts Aaron Burr, George Washington, James Madison, John Laurens, Marquis Gilbert ...
Ted Nugent Posts "Anti-Semitic" Facebook Message About Gun Control 2016-02-09 22:53
Rock musician Ted Nugent posted a message about “who is really behind gun control” on Facebook that the Anti-Defamation League slammed as "anti-Semitic".
More: ADL claims 26% of all world population is “anti-semitic”
The ADL and domestic spying: Roy Bullock case revisited
"Antisemitism on rise across Europe in worst times since the Nazis" says "expert" to the Guardian
In the post, Nugent shares a ...