Following up on the Gender Neutral Preschool Question

Updated on June 28, 2011
M.O. asks from Highland Park, NJ
16 answers

Hey mamas.

There's a question on Mamapedia today about a gender-neutral preschool in Sweden, where apparently even gender pronouns are forbidden (see I personally probably wouldn't go as far as to ban a pronoun (though perhaps that's linguistically easier in Swedish?), but I was really, well, surprised by the responses here. People were shocked and horrified. The word "disgusting" came up more than a few times.

I was in the process of responding (that I personally am more troubled by the fact that so many baby onesies say either "Princess" or "Little Slugger," since for me part of the magic of babyhood is that an infant can grow up to be ANYBODY -- the possibilities are limitless -- and I don't like locking young children into rigid gender stereotypes), but I realized that what I really have is a question: Why? Why is this bad to the point of being disgusting??? Please enlighten me. I haven't got a clue.

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answers from Jacksonville on

Here's my take: My daughter is a SHE and my son is a HE...They are NOT ITs.......I REFUSE for someone to tell me that it is wrong of me or society to call them he/she......They can be whatever they want to be in life and if they so choose to lean towards a gender role that is contradictory to the gender they were born with, so be it....but they will always be a SHE and a HE.......

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Maybe the word "disgusting" is not the right word but I do see a huge problem with the whole idea of this gender-neutral thing. Like I said in my post on the other question, I see it as trading one set of problems for another. I see it causing more confusion in the child if it's taken to the extreme. We are either a girl or a boy, not only does the outside determine this but more so the differences in "chemicals" within us. We are different, plain and simple. However, if my daughter wants to play with cars and the like, so be it, and if my son wants to push a stroller with a baby doll in it, fine. They are going to be who they are, whatever that might be. But I'm sorry they are a HE and a SHE.

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answers from Chicago on

so then what do you name your children if you don't want to "lock them into a rigid gender stereotype"? do you name them gender neutral names? or do you name your precious little girl Megan & your precioius little boy William. Or do you not name them till they decide what they want to be?

If they are at a playground & the other kids can't figure out if it's a girl or boy & they ask this 'gender neutral child' what they are (cause kids will), what do you want your child to say "well my parents are letting me decide & i haven't decided yet", the next question will be well what do you have down there. I don't think that would fare well at a playground or any where else and it would send the gender neutral child to feeling different & maybe isolated. Kids don't like to feel different which could lead to major emotional psychological problems.

This 'gender neutral' thing seems like a test that parents are allowing their children to be the guinea pigs on. Perhaps it's because the parents themselves felt out of place in society or were once teased or ridiculed for whatever reason, so now they are protecting their children from potential *harm*. A child has enough going on in their lives & this just seems to be another burden to put on them. It's one thing to let children play with opposite sex toys, wear opposite sex clothes, etc, but to not give them an identity doesn't sound right in my book.

I personally wouldn't/couldn't do this to my child. They can be what ever they want to be starting at whatever age it is they *recognize* their own gender differences but I won't be the one to push them into this mindset.

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answers from Bloomington on

It is too extreme to not even acknowledge gender! Stereotypes are one thing, but gender is a fact. Not even using gender specific pronouns? Are they trying to raise gender free children? These kids are going to be so confused when they enter the real world! It is also a fact that males and females ARE different! Physically, mentally, externally, and internally. Not only do we look different, but our body's produce different chemicals! I don't get why it is such a big deal to raise a male as male and a female as a female?

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answers from Albany on

I'm not really sure how a boy being a boy, and a girl being a girl could be a BAD thing!

After all without the distinct difference, the human race would've ceased to exist immediately after it started.

I think a little common sense is needed here, where, sure if the boy wants to play with a doll, and the girl wants to play with a Tonka truck, that's just FINE right? Least it is with me. I don't understand why it needs a NAME, a BOOK, a MOVEMENT, sigh.

I enjoy, learn from, and embrace the generalized differences between the sexes. I believe there's ALREADY a name for it.

It's called NATURE.


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answers from New York on

Placing "roles" with respect to gender on children isn't something that seems to be such a pressing issue that it requires the time, effort and funding necessary to start a school. Really? I can think of so many other educational reforms that are "essential" to child development... gender is so important?

"Genderless" is strange to me, simply because it seems to promote "sameness" in a way that minimizes the beauty of either gender. There's nothing wrong with identifying with a gender and the society-based roles that come along with it just like there's nothing wrong with chosing not to do so.

I really don't like the t-shirts and onesies that promote stereotypes for little ones b/c I happen to think they're tacky. I really don't like the "princess" culture we are creating for our young girls b/c it's false in so many ways. There was a great article in Parents magazine a couple of months ago on the idea of creating princesses in a world that requires hard work. Really interesting read!

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answers from Norfolk on

I think the people who found it disgusting jumped to a conclusion that the school is trying to teach children to be gay/lesbian.
That's not what I got from the article.
I think the school goes a bit far in not speaking about he or she, but all I think they are trying to do is say it's ok if a girl would rather play with the blocks instead of dolls and it's ok if a boy wants to play with dolls instead of blocks and it's ok if they think a doctor or a nurse can be a man or a woman.
Kids will play with what ever they want to (or are given) - what's the big deal?
Yes, girls grow to be women and boys grow to be men - but at pre school ages major estrogen/testosterone characteristics have not yet taken place and for all intensive purposes they all learn and play the same way.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

I'm with you on this O..
I think the same people that find this pre-school "disgusting" are the same people who have been the source of discrimination and prejudice of anyone outside THEIR norm since the dawn of man.
There will always be the contingent to society that likes everything predictable, labeled, and wrapped up in a conforming little package tied with a bow.

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answers from Columbus on

If I could, I would give your question 10 Flowers.

I'm not "disgusted" by the idea at all. It is an interesting idea. However, kids as they get older (like preschool & above) do get into gender roles, as part of their development. However, that being said, they can also sometimes (all the time?) think that they can choose their gender.

Anyway, I'm guessing that those who find it disgusting have trouble with being open-minded about GLBTG (gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans-gender) or even areas of thought that shake their narrow world view.... Or, perhaps they just don't understand the idea and view as some kind of "neutering" of the children (psychologically speaking).

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answers from Seattle on

I haven't got to that post yet, I am looking forward to it. But, my thoughts when reading your post were, "is my baby the only one that can't read?" Her onesies say princess, sweetpea, lovebug....all of those cutesy things. My boys also had champ, slugger, sweet baby, get the idea. I guess I don't see the problem.
If my son comes to me and says he wants to be a ballerina....GREAT! If my daughter comes to me and says she wants to be a fireman (woman)....GREAT! There's nothing saying that she can't do that AND be a princess. lol

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answers from Saginaw on

Even with the decision my sibling made and yes this person is now just a sibling. I feel that the world is getting a bit too lax on this area. Umm think about it people you have to have a male and a female to make a baby the proper and natural way! Not to males, not two of each. That's the way it is suppose to be so Yes! I feel it is very important to make sure my children know that they are either a male or a female. No they do not have to play with a specific type of toy, and no they are not required to do specific household duties. But yes I might just put a shirt on that says "princess" or "little Slugger" in hopes that they will take the correct role in life!

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answers from Jackson on

I didn't read the earlier post. But I think that not telling a child that they are boy are girl may be confusing. I think they can be whatever they want. But I think so may find it disgusting not give the child an identity. Like the transvesties that don't know if they are boy or girl. It is confusing and hard for them in the real world. I don't agree with the gender nutural thing but that is my take on why it would be disgusting.

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answers from Dayton on

EXACTLY what Bug said. :)

And I said it before about the "gender neutral baby": it is a rejection of the part of that child that is male/female. It can only come across to a small impressionable child as "We reject the fact that YOU ARE a boy/girl".

No one taught my son to throw every object he can pick up and yell "GRRR!". But he is certainly driven to do so. As well as stare at wheels like they are the coolest things on the planet.
(I use him as a example because he is untainted. He doesn't watch TV and is home most of the time w/ his sister and I.)

I embrace and celebrate my children's differences. I don't lump them into boy/ girl categories.

Does that make sense? It's late. ;)

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answers from San Francisco on

"Disgusting" is a little strong -- it probably won't harm children. How about "ridiculous?"

Gender is a fact. Denying or ignoring it is silly.

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answers from Austin on

I think it's a bit of a cultural throwback.

As someone pointed out in the original post, there are two "sexes," and they are determined by the absence or presence of a y chromosome. However, gender is more complicated than that. Most of the societies on Earth recognize more than two genders (the "hijras" of India, or the "two-spirits" of some Native American tribes, for example), but as they have become "First-World" societies, the practice of that recognition has faded (even Middle English and ancient Chinese pronouns used to be gender neutral, but that has died out). I think we're subconciously associating multiple genders or non-clearly-defined genders with being "uncivilized."

That being said, there is a distinct difference between the male and female sexes, and biology and psychology are teaching us more every day.

I'll do the best I can with my kids. My daughters like to dress up in girly stuff. They also fight over Matchbox cars, and own their own fishing poles and baseball gloves. I will buy them high-heeled shoes. I will sign them up for ballet, if they want to. I will also not allow either one of them to drive a car until they can check the fluid levels and change a tire BY THEMSELVES, just like my daddy did with me.

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answers from Cleveland on

I don't know if I would say it was "disgusting" but I think it's a bit off.
I do agree that placing roles on kids isn't right. Like saying Oh i have a daughter she can only play with dolls, kitchens, dress up etc
And my son can only play with cars, baseballs, tools etc

When I was growing up I played with my brother more than my 3 other sisters. I had more fun with Micro Machines & Hot Wheels than I did with Barbie. My parents let me be that way.
Now I do not agree with the idea of NOT letting them know their gender or what it means. In my opinion that is a big part of who you are.
I agree children should be able to grow up free of stereotypes and roles based on race, gender, religion etc
I dunno, its hard to explain my position, I just know I don't agree with most of that.

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