little girlFor some parents, it would be like finding nirvana. In Sweden there exists a school where there is no gender. The kids don't learn about "he" or "she." And the books are all about homosexual couples, lest mother or father be seen as "better."

It sounds like a load of manure to me. Yeah, I said it. Egalia is being touted as the new wunderkind on the educational playground. It's a place where they're creating children who believe in gender equality because inside the walls of Egalia, gender doesn't exist.

Uh huh. But outside of Egalia, gender does exist. And just as scientists have found that by ignoring race completely, parents end up raising little racists, by ignoring gender entirely, here's betting the kids coming out of Egalia at age 7 are going to be brimming with their own mal-formed thoughts on gender. It's the way kids work. They're narcissistic beings, and the way they are -- their gender, their race, their way of eating, talking, etc. -- is best in their minds. It takes someone, an adult, telling them about the richness of alternate choices, the opposite gender, in this case, for them to embrace something different.

I confess I've thought this way in the past. I once told a good friend, a white woman married to a man of color, that I wish we lived in a colorblind society, that her son wouldn't have to deal with racism. And what she said has stuck with me. She doesn't want her son to deal with racism either, but she doesn't want us to be colorblind either. She wants him to be proud of his heritage on both sides of his family, to be able to speak of the richness of each culture.

It's a lesson I've taken with me as a parent. Boys and girls are different. We're afraid to talk about it in this society because it's as if we'll have to admit that one is better than the other. Sorry, there's no getting around the fact that girls bleed for five days a month, that boys have to go through the discomfort of their voices cracking. But for every "bad" thing, there's good too. Scientific evidence about the way the brain works, the way the body works. Simple fact: I carried my daughter in my body. My husband couldn't do that. Then again, I couldn't create her without him.

I want my daughter to be equal to the boys, but that doesn't mean that she should ignore her femininity. Instead we talk about what makes being a girl so incredible, and we talk about what makes boys pretty darn cool too. Just as we talk about white and black, straight and gay. Ignoring gender sounds like it could fix a whole lot of ills, but at the end of the day, boys still have penises, and girls still have vaginas. They're still different people, and it's still going to have to be dealt with.

Would you send your kid to a school that pretended gender didn't exist?

 

Image via Elizabeth Albert/Flickr