Parents Raise Child 'Gender Neutral' for 5 Years; Labeled 'Child Abuse'

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By Benge Nsenduluka, CP Reporter
January 23, 2012|5:12 pm

The parents who chose to raise their child for five years as "gender neutral" have sparked widespread criticism, with some slamming it as child abuse.

Parents Beck Laxton, 46, and partner Kieran Cooper, 44, waited five years to disclose their child Sasha's sex because they feared social norms would harm their child.

"I wanted to avoid all that stereotyping...Stereotypes seem fundamentally stupid. Why would you want to slot people into boxes?" Laxton told Cambridge News.

"Gender affects what children wear and what they can play with, and that shapes the kind of person they become. All I want to do is make people think a bit," she added.

Although both parents revealed that Sasha is in fact a boy five years after his birth, initially his sex was revealed only to a few close family friends although they were constantly bombarded with questions about his sex.

For five years Sasha's parents encouraged him to alternate between girls' and boys' clothing, and to play with gender-neutral toys.

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Laxton and Cooper, both from Cambridgeshire, U.K., made sure never to give clues to Sasha's gender by referring to him as "the infant."

Sasha's gender was only revealed because his parents say that when he started school, his gender became too difficult to hide.

Even though his sex is no longer a secret, Sasha insists on wearing a blouse to school which is from the girls' uniform list, and both parents encourage him to wear floral and feminine tops during weekends.

Although some critics have called this process confusing and cruel, Laxton refuses to listen and has claimed otherwise.

"I don't think I'd do it if I thought it was going to make him unhappy, but at the moment he's not really bothered either way. We haven't had any difficult scenarios yet," Laxton said.

"It's like horoscopes. What could be stupider than thinking there are 12 types of personality that depend on when you were born? It's so idiotic," she added.

Bryan Fischer, director of issue analysis for government and public policy for the American Family Association, a Mississippi-based "pro-family" organization, condemned the "gender neutral" parenting idea.

Speaking about a similar case involving Canadian parents Kathy Witterick, 38, and David Stocker, 39, he told Fox News that the process was detrimental to a child's well being.

"I don't think there's any question that this is going to do severe harm to this child," Fischer told Fox News.

"That child is either a male or female, and it's a tragedy that his parents or her parents are apparently unwilling to base their approach on scientific and biological truth," he added.

In Stockholm Sweden, gender neutral preschool Egalia continues to raise eyebrows.

At the preschool, children are taught not to refer to one another as girls or boys but as "friends," which some critics argue ignores a crucial part of the human race that is vital in helping form a child's identity.

 

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