Children at gender neutral schools are more likely to play with both girls and boys

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Young children are more likely to play with both girls and boys if they go to a gender neutral preschool.

A new study, which looked at children in the Swedish capital of Stockholm, found they were also less likely to use gender stereotypes in every day life.

Gender-neutral schools will actively avoid using gendered pronouns like he or she, instead opting for a child’s name or a gender-neutral version.

Teachers will also avoid gender specific behaviors such as complimenting a girl on her clothes or hair, and books are carefully curated to avoid traditional presentations of gender and parenting roles.

While a full set of toys will be on offer, they’ll be presented to children side by side – so as to encourage them to use both.

Dr Ben Kenward, one of the researchers on the study, told The Local children has more opportunities for “developing and learning”.

“If you don’t limit yourself according to gender you have more opportunities for developing, learning and exposing yourself to situations that allow you to develop.

“So, for example, if you’re a girl and you don’t avoid the building block toys, or if you’re a boy you don’t avoid playing families. Boys and girls can all develop through these learning opportunities.

“Avoiding playing with children of the opposite gender is something which means you’re not experiencing certain kinds of interactions that could help you to develop” he added.

Children at gender neutral schools are more likely to play with both girls and boys
Schools will avoid books which promote gender stereotypes

While the sample size of the study was quite small due to the rarity of gender-neutral schools, it did conclude children were more open to socialising with members of the opposite sex.

Gender-neutrality has been part of the national debate in Sweden for several years now, after a couple decided to raise their child as gender-neutral in 2010.

The parents of Pop decided to only reveal their identity to close family, saying they wanted the child to grow up “more freely”.

“We want Pop to grow up more freely and avoid being forced into a specific gender mould from the outset,” explained Pop’s mother. “It’s cruel to bring a child into the world with a blue or pink stamp on their forehead.”

A Canadian couple also followed suit in 2011, refusing to reveal the gender identity of their child storm.

The country has also made other LGBT positive strides this year.

In January the Nordic state announced they would stop classifying trans people as mentally ill, with the Government also pledging to pay compensation to those who had been forced to undergo sterilisation.