France is well known for its bold politics and its latest plan to teach gender equality in schools is no different. Everywhere we look these days, there’s an article or a blog post about how even in the 21stcentury, there still isn’t equality between the sexes. Even Beyoncé is throwing her opinion into the debate (you can read her open letter entitled: ‘Gender Equality is a Myth!’ here.) There’s loads of talking about it, but what are we actually doing about it?
Well, the French government recently introduced a trial scheme into primary schools, named the ABCD of Equality that aimed to teach children that boys and girls are equal and have equal opportunities in life in a bid to scrap the idea of traditional stereotypes of jobs for boy and girls. So this is a positive thing, right?
Wrong. The trial has had to be scrapped, amidst widespread protests from religious and far right political groups. Their argument is that the plan is ‘insulting to professions that have been traditionally female’ and that there is a worry that teaching children that they are totally equal would blur gender lines altogether.
The French government hasn’t given up completely though and instead plans are in place to provide teachers with new training that will allow them to bring up the subject of gender equality when they think it is relevant. They state that the goal is “not to deny a difference” but to show that boys and girls “are equal.”
I personally don’t see how shaking up gender stereotypes could ever be a bad thing, as they work against boys, as well as girls. Even in primary school, a boy could still easily be bullied for deciding that he wants to be a dancer or a nurse, instead of the traditional footballer or astronaut.
Children are the next generation of adults, so to get the best out of them, surely we should be teaching them to respect each other and that they can be anything they want to be. And we do want them to be the best and happiest that they can be; after all they’ll be looking after us when we’re old!