Primary school children could be barred from lining up for class as boys and girls to stop “gender stereotyping”, under controversial plans being considered by a Scottish council.
Edinburgh City Council is also considering stopping primary schools from separating boys and girls at school sports days.
But Ann Ballinger, general secretary of the Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association, said: “Of all the things that are wrong and of all the problems these kids face, you would have thought the differences between boys and girls would be the least of it.
“This is probably a well-meant initiative, and I don’t want to be too harsh, but there are so many issues that are more important than whether boys and girls line up together.”
The council is set to introduce the measures following a trial at a local primary school.
Trinity Primary, where pupils work in teams to design “gender-neutral” toys, has been chosen as a model for the rest of the city.
Helen Donaldson, the acting head teacher, said: “One of the aims of this work is to try to break down gender barriers, so we also make sure that children are not separated into boy/girl groups for sports, lining up in the playground or for competitions.”
But Liz Smith MSP, the Conservative education spokeswoman, said: “I think this is entirely a matter for schools. I don’t think it’s for local authorities to intervene in that.
“I certainly don’t think it’s appropriate for councils to be telling schools what to do based on political correctness.”
Last month a couple who have been raising their child as ‘gender-neutral’ revealed that their five-year-old Sasha is a boy.
Beck Laxton and Kieran Cooper decided to keep their son’s sex a secret because they feared he would be influenced by gender stereotypes.
But Lucie Russell, of Young Minds mental health charity, said: “Children aren’t experiments. Early child development is about finding an identity. Knowing and promoting whether you are a girl or a boy helps with forming one’s self-identity.”