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Parents raising children as ‘gender neutral’ dress son in tutus to combat sexism

A couple are raising their their children through ‘gender-neutral parenting’ – dressing their son in tutus and their daughter as a firefighter – to fight sexism.

Callie Glorioso-Mays, 30, and her military husband Caleb, 29, hope their son Hadden, five, and daughter Adelaide, one, will never see their sex as a "hindrance or excuse" and will grow up to see men and women as equals thanks to their parenting style.

The parents have shunned defining their children by gender stereotypes, with family photos showing Hadden with bows in his hair and wearing a tutu, and Adelaide wearing matching outfits with her brother.

Callie and Caleb told how they don’t divide colours or toys between the two sexes, and they don’t stop their children from wearing clothes associated with the opposite sex.

The parents believe their children will be better off, but admit they have received some "negative" feedback from friends and family members who struggle to understand why Hadden wears hair bows.

Callie said: "There’s a misconception that gender-neutral parenting means denying or concealing your child’s biological sex. But gender refers to social constructs of masculinity or femininity, which varies by culture and changes throughout time.

"There was a time when girls wearing trousers was considered indecent. That’s changed. So who says more shouldn’t change as well?

"The way we practice gender-neutral parenting is based in the idea that boys and girls should be raised the same way.

"Instead of dividing things like colours and toys between the sexes we give each child the freedom and encouragement to discover what they like."

The parents have avoided "highly gendered" clothing and toys since the day their children were born, and shop for both of them out of the "girls" and "boys" sections.

Callie said: "While most toys are shared, our son was gifted baby dolls and our daughter her own dump truck.

"On a bigger scale we tried to avoid gendered language or assumptions. Phrases like ‘boys will be boys’ or ‘she’s a drama queen’ play into negative stereotypes about each sex so I really rail against those.

"We talk a lot about how boys and girls can do all the same things: boys can wear hair bows, girls love playing with airplanes, everybody likes to run and play at the park.

"We also intentionally expose them to books or people who are acting outside gender norms.

"From the time that they’re born we’re telling children that there’s a huge difference between men and women. Kids pick up on these subtle things and it informs their idea of what is acceptable for them."

She added: "If girls are given only dolls and play houses, they’re learning that that’s their appropriate realm. Our goal is that our children grow up to see men and women as equals and value them as individuals, instead of judging them on how well they fit into societal norms.

"We hope that our children will never see their sex as a hindrance or an excuse, but as just one aspect of who they are."

Callie and Caleb say that they aren’t parenting in this way to be controversial or to show off, they just think that both of their children should be given the same opportunities and encouragement in life.

The couple believe children raised under gender neutral parenting will grow up to be more confident with healthy views of members of the opposite sex.

Callie said: "Children will be more well-rounded and confident. Hopefully they’ll be in touch with their emotions, something we see as traditionally feminine, and their physicality, seen as traditionally masculine.

"And they’ll have more generous views of themselves and other people instead of viewing everyone through a strict gender binary.

"On a larger scale raising gender neutral children will diversify fields that are currently highly gendered which results in stronger communities, organisations and countries.

"The traditional view on gender is a binary: male or female. No variance. But I think society is becoming more comfortable with the truth that it’s not so black and white.

"I hope my children will have the freedom become their whole selves and also that they will extend that freedom to everyone they meet as well."

She added: "I have a very small Instagram following and have connected with many like-minded parents so I’ve always had wonderful feedback on that medium.

"In general the ‘negative’ feedback from friends and family members has more often come from a place of confusion than of true disagreement. It’s hard for people to understand why we let our son wear a hair bow, for instance."


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