From News.com.au: Victorian councils could ban books and toys from kindergartens, schools and libraries if they don’t meet strict gender guidelines, according to reports.
The Herald Sun revealed Manningham and Melbourne City Councils are among those auditing children’s books and urging a ban on the terms “boy” and “girl”.
It follows research from the Australian National University that showed children were influenced by gender stereotyping.
The research suggests educators should “minimise the extent to which gender is labelled” and avoid telling children what girls and boys should do.
Parents reacted angrily to the story on social media. “For goodness sake, this is social engineering gone crazy,” Marie Hardwick wrote on a post by state Liberal MP Tim Smith. “Leave kids alone to be kids. Stop trying to destroy kids’ childhoods.”
Sarah Lovejoy took to Sunrise’s Facebook page after it was debated on the program this morning.
“This needs to stop. I’ve got a two-year-old daughter (yes I picked her gender based on what genitals she was born with) and she plays with cars, trains, tractors, Barbies, dolls and uses her imagination and pretends she’s cooking food or being a doctor. Let’s just let kids be kids.”
Billie Deborah Chin wrote: “Banning the availability of anything, or taking choice away, is definitely the wrong way to go about making classrooms gender neutral. It should be about making everything available to everyone.”
But commentator Cath Webber urged calm. She said “it sounds outrageous” but it’s actually not a bad idea.
“The research is actually very interesting. What they’re telling people to do is … don’t tell girls they have to play with Barbies and don’t tell boys they have to play with Lego. It may seem crazy but we know it’s an unconscious thought pattern that little girls get into or little boys get into.
“There has to be a reason why in science, technology, engineering, maths in this country we have such a low rate of females in that industry. If they were choosing to play with Lego … why not just encourage people to say ‘play with what you want as kids’. That’s all this is about.”
Ron Wilson from Smooth FM told Sunrise “it’s about inclusion, not exclusion” but that it’s important “boys are boys and girls are girls”.
“I wouldn’t be banning things, but I would be including more things for everybody to be involved in. When you’ve got kids, you suddenly realise that boys are boys and girls are girls and viva la difference. I don’t want to see androgyny out there.
“I don’t want to see our children just being children. The fact (is) they are boys and girls and they are different and there’s no question about that. We should celebrate that. I think we need respect. We don’t need social engineering.”