21 May 2018 Herald Sun,
Melbourne (General News)
by Susie O'Brien
VICTORIAN councils are auditing libraries, schools and kindergartens and urging a ban on the terms "boy" and "girl" in a bid to teach children as young as three to have "gender equitable relationships".
Melbourne City Council is among a number of local authorities responding to radical new research suggesting educators should: AVOID classifying kids by gender, and boys and girls-only activities; AVOID comments defining what females or males do, or should do; and AVOID using the terms "boys" and "girls", and "minimise the extent to which gender is labelled".The Australian National University research, published in March, studied how children are influenced by gender stereotyping and found "prejudice along race and gender lines can be observed in children as young as three to four years of age".
Under the new guidelines, children's favourites including Thomas the Tank Engine, Noddy and Winnie the Pooh could be banned for not meeting gender tests. Disney dressups, Barbie and Bratz dolls, and super-hero play could also become things of the past.
Study lead author Dr Tania King said: "Gender-stereotyped toys may encourage and elicit undesirable behaviours in both boys and girls."
Dr King wrote: "If girls avoid playing with toys such as Lego, they may miss opportunities to develop special and mechanical reasoning skills that are necessary for careers and courses in science, technology, engineering and mathematics." Girls who played with "highly feminised characters" like Barbies had fewer career options; engagement with Disney princess toys led to more female-stereotypical views.
Boys who watched superhero shows were more genderstereotyped in their thinking, according to the study, which analysed 28 academic papers on gender in early learning.The City of Darebin recently got a $26,000 state grant to look at how promoting "positive and respectful roles and relationships" at preschool could prevent violence against women.
Educational resources suggest educators apply a "gender lens" to programs and materials, such as by reviewing books to ensure "a range of different stories and experiences beyond gender stereotypical narratives". Teachers are told to not select toys in gendered colours and to not use expressions such as "boys will be boys".Others councils running or managing hundreds of childcare centres and kindergartens are taking a similar approach.
A City of Melbourne spokesman said the council was developing materials to "promote the rights of all children to have safe, equal and respectful relationships".Manningham City Council checks books for gender modelling and diversity. Teachers are asked not to call girls "honey" and "sweetie" or classes "you guys", and to consider how their gender or sexuality may influence interactions.
Maribyrnong City Council asks libraries to promote "gender equity and challenge gender stereotypes" in selections.
Minister for Women and Prevention of Family Violence Natalie Hutchins said that despite record investment, without gender equality "the change needed won't happen."
But Opposition youth and families spokeswoman Georgie Crozier said councils should "butt out of this nonsense" of banning books."It's crazy. Boys should be boys and girls should be girls.
"Any funding should be focused on interventions to prevent family violence, and not radical gender-based theories."
|Tags: Letters to the Editor|