Kindergarten program to stop sexism in four-year-olds comes under fire
Herald Sun, 29 March 2017
A CONTROVERSIAL program to stop sexism and gender stereotyping in four-year-olds has come under fire from education experts.
Thousands of early childhood educators will be taught to eliminate “gender norms” and inequality in Victorian kindergartens.
The program aims to reduce domestic violence by promoting “Respectful Relationships”.
A tender to train 4000 early childhood educators during the next year has warned that children as young as four can show signs of sexist behaviour.
“Research shows that children become aware of gender expectations and make efforts to fit within these gendered norms by the time they are in kindergarten,” the tender said.
“As young children learn about gender, they may also begin to enact sexist values, beliefs and attitudes that may contribute to disrespect and gender inequality.”
Dr Kevin Donnelly, senior research fellow at Australian Catholic University, said preschool children didn’t have the maturity to understand the Respectful Relationships teaching on gender and sexuality.
“It is far too early,” Dr Donnelly said.
“It is quite outrageous and quite offensive to think that young children of that age will be indoctrinated with this very cultural, left gender and sexuality theory.
“It really is destroying the innocence of childhood.”
Opposition education spokesman Nick Wakeling slammed the government for forcing its values on “other people’s children”.
“Frankly, parents have had an absolute gutful of (Premier) Daniel Andrews’ social engineering programs in schools and kinders,” Mr Wakeling said.
“The best thing we can do for our children is to give them the best education possible so they leave school understanding the importance and benefits of diversity and individualism and have the skills and knowledge to get good jobs that will keep them fulfilled and happy.”
The government will spend $3.4 million on introducing the Respectful Relationships program in funded kindergartens and preschools.
It’s part of a broader $21.8 million push to roll out the controversial initiative in government and catholic schools.
Families and Children Minister Jenny Mikakos said the preschool teaching would be specifically designed for young children.
“The early years are an important time to start helping children develop a secure sense of self and healthy, respectful relationships — this will help prevent family violence in the long-term,” she said.
Early Learning Association Australia boss Shane Lucas supported the program “in principle”.
He said parents often had a “knee jerk” reaction when they felt they were being told how to raise their children.