A school in Sweden has taken "equality" to a new level, declaring war on gender classification -- among other things, it has done away with words that identify anyone as a boy or a girl.
TheAssociated Pressreports on a preschool called "Egalia," which has a stated mission to make sure that children do not fall into gender stereotypes.
They do this by banning words like "him" or "her" -- "han" or "hon" in Swedish -- instead using the genderless "hen," a made-up word used in feminist and gay circles.
"We use the word "Hen" for example when a doctor, police, electrician or plumber or such is coming to the kindergarten," said school director Lotta Rajalin. "We don't know if it's a he or a she so we just say 'Hen is coming around 2pm.' Then the children can imagine both a man or a woman. This widens their view."
Sweden has a theory that society gives an unfair edge to boys, so there are programs like these to even things out.
"Society expects girls to be girlie, nice and pretty and boys to be manly, rough and outgoing," said Jenny Johnsson, a teacher at the school. "Egalia gives them a fantastic opportunity to be whoever they want to be."
The school currently has 33 students, ages one to six. They play together in a toy kitchen, which is right next to the building blocks, "to make sure the children draw no mental barriers between cooking and construction," theAPwrites.
The school also teachers tolerance of gays.
"A concrete example could be when they're playing 'house' and the role of the mom already is taken and they start to squabble," said Rajalin. "Then we suggest two moms or three moms and so on."
Some parents think the school goes too far.
"Different gender roles aren't problematic as long as they are equally valued," said Tanja Bergkvist, a leading critic of what she calls "gender madness" in Sweden.
"(They) say there's a hierarchy where everything that boys do is given higher value, but I wonder who decides that it has higher value," she says. "Why is there higher value in playing with cars?"
However, other parents think it's a great idea. The school has a long waiting list, and just one couple has pulled their child out of the school.