From birth, children are usually placed into two binaries of gender that continue to follow them into adulthood. However, children should be raised gender-neutral as it eliminates gender bias and allows them to explore themselves without harmful restrictions.
Some people question their gender growing up and struggle to find their true selves if not given the tools or opportunities to explore their gender. They may often grapple with mental health as well. Often, children may be told to stick to their gender roles. For example, parents may tell male children not to play with dolls and tell female children that they’ll grow up to be mothers.
It is important to make a distinction when it comes to raising a child in a gender-neutral environment. The goal should not be to eliminate gender, but to create an environment where gender is not a determining factor in what a child can or cannot do.
According to research, children who are raised in a traditional feminine or masculine bedroom decorated by their parents are more than likely to reflect the same gender views as their parents.
Many of these views of gender can be harmful such as toxic masculinity, which involves boys suppressing their emotions in order to be tough and being violent to show power. It often rewards behavior like catcalling and seeing women as objects.
Common sayings among parents can often be “be a man” and “you hit like a girl” towards their sons. This idea that boys must be strong and stoic is harmful to their development and can lead to depression, anger issues and emotional outbursts since they were never allowed to express themselves because of their gender.
Raising a child to be gender-neutral works to eliminate harmful concepts like this that reinforce stereotypes.
Some might argue that children will be confused in the future or not have a concrete concept of themselves. However, that is far from the truth.
Time Magazine wrote about a child named Zoomer who was raised in a gender-neutral environment. Zoomer has an advanced sense of gender that many adults do not possess. They understand that genitalia does not equate to gender and are inclusive of all peoples despite their appearances.
Their gender-neutral upbringing has allowed them not to view gender as an obstacle to one’s potential which is a belief that many Americans lack while growing up.
With Florida’s Republican Party signing the “Don’t Say Gay” law and 15 states prohibiting transgender youth from receiving gender-affirming medical care, traditional views on gender only work to harm LGBTQ children instead of helping them be true to themselves.
In order to allow for a more gender-inclusive society, it should start with parents raising their kids to not be limited by the gendered restrictions that are embedded in society.
By raising children in a gender-neutral environment, their generation will not be afraid to be themselves as well as accept everyone regardless of their gender.
Cindy Rivas Alfaro is a journalism freshman who can be reached at [email protected]