Before I start this post about the gender neutral debate I’d like to make it very clear that I fully believe that ALL children should be given the same opportunities. I want both my son and daughter to know that they can do ANYTHING they can put their minds to. I certainly don’t want to limit either of my children, and I am a very strong advocate of a Growth Mindset.
I have been following the gender neutral debate for a while now, and agree with some of the messages that are coming out.
- I don’t want my daughter to think that her looks are her value!
- I want both of my kids to know they can be builders or rocket scientists or hairdressers. I want them to dream big and to fulfil their potential – whatever that is.
- I’m not keen on clothes that promote messages to our children – in fact I choose to dress my children in clothes without messages – after all, they can’t really read yet so who am I dressing them for?
However, and it might just be me, I think that we have gone too far the other way! When I read all the comments out there, they are very one sided. Has anyone else noticed? Pretty much all the messages about being gender neutral are from parents of GIRLS – and very few from parents of BOYS!
The message seems to be the following:
We need to be teaching our girls that they are strong, independent and are not just valued by their looks. We want them to know that they can be superheroes and scientists, astronauts and leaders of industry. Our girls need to hear messages from strong women, and not be pigeon holed into traditional female roles.
I have to say that I agree with this completely. It’s what I teach Little Miss, and have done since she came home, and what I taught the children in my schools.
BUT…what about our boys???
The message seems to be that we need to teach girls to be strong and independent and do anything they want. But when do we teach boys that it is OK for them to be gentle and soft? That they can be ballet dancers, or child minders or stay at home dads? How many clothes targeted at boys have rainbows or unicorns or flowers on them??
Little Sir is 5. He loved unicorns and rainbows and flowers. He loved the colour pink. That was, until he went to school. Now he loves blue and green. He wants to be a superhero, loves cars and he doesn’t think that he should like flowers and unicorns! Again, I don’t have any problems with this – he can like what he likes.
BUT….if we are going to keep having this gender neutral debate, then hows about we talk about our boys too? How about we give them the message that they don’t have to be strong superheroes, and it’s OK to be soft, gentle and kind?
Surely, when talking about gender neutral, we should talk about our children as children – and if we are going to have the debate, maybe the debate should be:
Why don’t we let children be children? Let them pick out what they love and not make a big deal of it?? If they want to wear pink or green, fairies or superheroes, play with dolls or trucks – maybe we just take them to the shops and let them pick. After all – kids are inherently gender neutral until they go to schools!
Perhaps we should just encourage that!
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