Advice, Focus

Reinforce Gender Stereotypes

Reinforce Gender Stereotypes

Children’s gender stereotypes should be reinforced, not abolished

In the second of her series of posts about the Government’s new compulsory Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) programme, writer and researcher Belinda Brown examines the subversive ideology of the advisers who have influenced it.

Perhaps the least controversial aim of the Relationships and Sex Education curriculum is to ‘challenge stereotypes’. This may be far less innocuous than it seems.

That stereotypes are a problem is written into the heart of the Department for Education guidance. Schools ‘should be alive to issues such as gender stereotypes and take positive action to build a culture where there are not tolerated, and any occurrences are identified and tackled’, we are told.

Erasing gender stereotypes is then written into every single RSE resource. Children are given books such as William’s Doll to reverse gender roles, or Ten Thousand Dresses, a story about a child who we are told is a boy, but is referred to also as she and as a girl. Are you a boy or are you a girl? is a book used to teach children not to assume other children have a particular sex.

The problem is that while the ideologues believe that gender stereotypes cause sexism and homophobia, they play an essential role in helping children develop their own ‘sex identity’ and their awareness of ‘sex constancy’; the existence of male and female sexes.

Psychologist Katie Alcock explains how this takes place. Children are born with the ability to make generalisations on the basis of observed patterns. That is how they know the thing that drives them around is a car or the little furry animal with pointy ears is a cat. Between the ages of 18 months and three years they use this ability to identify, on the basis of stereotyped appearances and behaviours, that they are a boy or a girl and the distinction between the male and female sexes.

However, in these early years this understanding remains very superficial. If a pen is shaped like a banana, they think it’s a banana; if a cat wears a dog mask they think it’s a dog. They have no awareness that a little girl with short hair is still a girl. They certainly don’t understand that it is people’s genitals which determine their sex.

By the time children are about six or seven they get better at understanding that objects don’t change their real essence when they change their appearance, but sex constancy takes longer to develop and it requires understanding that the underlying essence of a thing isn’t dependent on its appearance.

Yet how can children learn to identify boys and girls if there is no difference in their appearance or behaviour? How can children learn whether they are girls or boys if there is no distinction allowed between the two?

For decades, sex differences in dress, play, toys and clothes have been seen as evidence of pernicious ‘stereotyping’ and therefore they have been suppressed. This has been depriving children of the clues and information which help them to develop their own sexed identity. We can hardly be surprised if they get gender dysphoria.

The diagnosis of gender dysphoria depends on children latching on to and adopting stereotypes of the wrong sex. This has led psychologists such as Katie Alcock to the logical conclusion that if we lived in a world where no toys or dress or behaviour was stereotyped, it would not be possible for children to be diagnosed with gender dysphoria. Therefore she argues we must teach children ‘not that it is OK for a few boys to wear pink, but that ALL boys can wear pink and (importantly for the way in which children develop stereotypes) making sure that we influence society so that all boys DO wear pink’.

Alcock has allowed herself to be swayed by her ideology which prevents her seeing that stereotypes are vital. In ignoring this she is not just throwing the baby out with the bathwater but doing untold harm.

The complete destruction of stereotypes would hamstring the development of both sex identity and sex constancy. Yet it is only when we have truly secure identities that children can work out what they really like and have the security to challenge stereotypes in any meaningful genuine way. A child with a deep understanding of male and female will benefit tremendously from that understanding even when they notice that their own way of being doesn’t quite fit.

Instead we deprive children of the tools to work out their own and others sexed identity.

Then from the youngest ages we confuse the struggling child even further with the gender unicorn or Genderbread person. With ideological concepts like ‘gender expression’, ‘gender identity’ and ‘assigned sex’ their already fractured identity will be broken into disparate and uncoordinated parts.

Then they will be told that girls can have penises and boys can have vaginas.

And if all of that hasn’t produced a child who is ‘gender questioning’ Stonewall proposes ‘being proactive’ – a strategy for sniffing them out (p7).

Once this has happened schools are encouraged to reinforce the child’s new gender identity, often without even telling the parents. A few years later they will be put on to puberty blockers which are designed to confirm that identity and tragically condemn the child to a surgical path.

Childhood gender dysphoria on the scale that we are seeing it is an entirely new and manufactured social problem afflicting increasing numbers of our children. It has absolutely devastating consequences. It is a product of social engineering. And the biggest weapon which those who want to shape our children have is control over RSE.

If you would like to stay in touch with campaigns to challenge RSE please go to or


Belinda Brown

This article is reproduced by kind permission of Conservative Women.

The views expressed don’t necessarily reflect those of Parent Power.



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