In a pre-school in Stockholm, teachers avoid using the pronouns "he" and "she." Instead, its 115 students call "friends." The use of pronouns male or female is taboo. They are replaced by the pronoun "hen," a word without gender that avoids most Swedes, but is used in some feminist and gay circles.The school library has a few classic fairy tales such as "Cinderella" or "Snow White" with its male and female stereotypes. But there are many stories of single parents, adopted children or same-sex couples. Girls are not encouraged to play with toy kitchens, and the building blocks are not seen as toys for boys. Teachers are instructed to treat the boys, when they get hurt with the same care they would give to girls. There, everyone can play with dolls.
Sweden is famous for its egalitarian mindset. But this pre-school funded by taxpayers, known as the Nicolaigarden-the name comes from the saint whose chapel was in the building that is today-school, perhaps one of the most striking examples of the country's efforts to erase the divisions between genders.
Malin Engleson, an official of an art gallery, was seeking her daughter at school and commented that children are taught there "that girls can cry but boys can also." "That's why I chose this school," she continued. The model has been so successful that two years ago, three teachers from different Nicolaigarden opened a school in the same way, which now has almost 40 students. Call Egalia to suggest equality, the new school is in the district of Södermalm.
What today arouses the enthusiasm of teachers began with a push from legislators Swedes, who in 1998 passed a law requiring schools to guarantee equal opportunities for boys and girls.
The Stockholm government is in favor of gender politics. "What is important is that children have the same opportunities, independently of their gender," said Lotta Edholm, deputy mayor in charge of schools. "It is a matter of freedom."
For her, the parents will always have a bigger role than the school or daycare in the development of their children. "The pre-school takes children a few hours a day," she said. "Children tend to adopt the values of their parents."
Researched by: Daniela Silva.