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Another Failed Attempt to Make Genderless Kids

Written By: Jim Swanson  |  Posted: Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

            At the end of June a news article spread around the Internet featuring the Stockholm, Sweden Egalia preschool. "At the 'Egalia' preschool, staff avoid using words like 'him' or 'her' and address the 33 kids as 'friends' rather than girls and boys. From the color and placement of toys to the choice of books, every detail has been carefully planned to make sure the children don't fall into gender stereotypes. 'Society expects girls to be girlie, nice and pretty and boys to be manly, rough and outgoing,' says Jenny Johnsson, a 31-year-old teacher. 'Egalia gives them a fantastic opportunity to be whoever they want to be.' Breaking down gender roles is a core mission in the national curriculum for preschools (in Sweden), underpinned by the theory that even in highly egalitarian-minded Sweden, society gives boys an unfair edge."

            Though this concept is not new, the preschool has pushed the boundaries further than others, so far. Egalia staff focus on shedding any gender bias, even in the use of pronouns. Masculine and feminine pronouns for him or her - 'han' or 'hon' in Swedish- are replaced with genderless 'hen,' "a word that doesn't exist in Swedish but is used in some feminist and gay circles."

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