Gender-Neutral Daycares: An Ideal Upbringing or a Feminist Provocation?

A debate is raging as to how children should be handled at pre-school and how the staff should deal with them. The promoters of gender-neutral pedagogy argue that it is wrong to tell children what role they should assume just because of their gender. But their opponents accuse them of misguiding innocent children in the name of feminism.

The last two decades have seen an increasing intensity in the debate concerning the need to popularise gender-neutral pedagogy at day care centres. More and more voices are heard questioning how severe stereotypes have prevented boys and girls from developing their potentials simply because they're bound by traditional values.

The number of day care centres which have adopted the gender neutral method is growing slowly but steadily. These centres treat the children without clearly-defined gender roles, irrespective of their sexes. The promoters of gender-neutrality would tell you that the method enables the child to grow as a person and not as a boy or a girl. And there are a number of good examples which illustrate why an untrained staff can reinforce the traditional roles played by boys and girls.

But not everyone is excited by gender-neutral day care centres. Pär Ström, integrity ombudsman at the right-wing think-tank Den Nya Välfärden, says staff at day care centres are already aware of the problems related to gender neutrality.