Children’s books about sexual equality have provoked heated debate in Latvia. In an effort to break stereotypes about kids’ patterns of behavior, it has been suggested that girls and boys switch bodies. But it’s easier said than done.
The books have been translated from Danish, and are entitled “The Day when Carlis was Carlina” and “The Day when Ruta was Richard”. The authors believe communal reading of the stories in kindergartens will help youngsters form a better opinion about gender equality.
For instance, whether it is “appropriate for girls to play football; whether boys playing with dolls should feel ashamed; whether all girls prefer pink clothes and boys go for dark outfits,” the Delfi website explains.
A number of organisations have expressed indignation over the textbooks. Activists are worried the Latvian Ministry of Welfare, which has reportedly financed their publication, is carrying out experiments in children’s sex identity without their parents’ and school teachers’ agreement.
A number of experts say the value of the books with similar role-playing games gives rise to serious doubts.
Latvia’s Minister for Welfare, Ilze Vinkele, has described such criticism as “unenlightened”.
“The conventional understanding of gender roles has its roots in the Middle Ages, but also goes back to Soviet times when a man is said to be the one who works, comes home, beats his wife and occasionally drinks given it’s his right. In my opinion, it’s wrong, silly and ignorant,” the Minister said.
According to the Ministry of Welfare 500 books have been published and are due to appear in kindergartens in the near future.