A BBC documentary airing tonight will investigate what happens when children are raised without gender.
No More Boys and Girls: Can Our Kids Go Gender Free? aims to explore the issue of gender disparities and try to even out the children’s confidence and abilities.
In BBC’s latest TV experiment, Doctor Javid Abdelmoneim takes over a Year 3 class from Lanesend primary school on the Isle of Wight.
The new classroom banishes all gendered clothing, colours and gender specific activities, introduces gender-neutral toilets to ensure all children are treated the same.
In the six weeks of gender neutral treatment, the Doctor will use psychological measures, from self-confidence to spatial awareness, to determine whether he can change their perspective and achievements.
Issues explored in the documentary are particularly contentious, as many schools are beginning to introduce gender neutral uniform policies.
In 2016, Caroline Jordan, president of the Girls’ Schools Association, said teachers needed to consider using gender neutral language when addressing pupils.
Dr Javid has responded to critics suggesting that the programme is asking questions about gender identity to children who are too young to understand or ask questions. He said:
“One, this is absolutely not about gender identity. Two, in no way could you imagine anyone ever trying to steer children in a way that’s harmful. We’re talking about the BBC. I’m a Doctor. ”
“Their parents and teachers were involved. Three, watch the programme and then if you still want to hold that view – well, then you’re daft.”
In the first episode, psychometric tests show a huge divide between the viewpoints of boys and girls.
The results showed that girls have much lower self-esteem and cannot process numbers and shapes as quickly as boys, whilst the male students were more confident in their abilities but less able to show emotions.
Every girl apart from one said that boys are “better” than them and their self-perception is largely limited to their appearance.
A female student, Kara, says “girls are better at being pretty” while another, Tiffany, declares “men are better at being in charge.”
From the boys, Louis says “girls look after the child and boys do lots of cool stuff,” while Bradley declares “men are more successful because they could have harder jobs.”
To critics, Dr Javid adds:
“This is about giving children a full development so they can achieve absolutely anything they want. I’d challenge any sane and sensible adult to say we don’t want that.”