Sweden is renowned for its equal rights and anti-discrimination activism. There are always new arrangements being made to ensure the equal well-being of all of Sweden’s 9 million citizens, some which, for much of the rest of the world, appear extreme and receive much criticism. For example, there is a preschool in Stockholm that refrains from using the gender-linked pronouns han (he) and hon (she), and instead uses the [inofficial but widespread] gender-neutral pronoun hen, the goal being to teach children that gender is not of question when it comes to competence and degree of humanity. Another good example is the more-or-less recent decision of Top Toy, owners of Sweden’s branch of Toys R Us and BR, a Scandinavian toy store chain, to print their Christmas catalogues in a gender-neutral fashion: both boys and girls were depicted playing with toys that more traditionally have been seen to either be for boys or for girls, not both. These examples are of the anti-gender discrimination sort, but as you probably have heard, Sweden is also a champion of equal rights for people of every religion, sexual orientation, skin color, and everything else.
This week, we’ve had yet another development in the Swedes’ fight for anti-discrimination, this time also gender-related. A junior high school in Luleå called Tunaskolan has just taken down a sign deemed sexist that had been painted on a wall between the students’ male and female restrooms as part of an art project. Prior to its appearance, it had been approved by the school’s personnel, but 14 year-old Astrid Johansson quickly reacted and shared her frustration via social media, awakening much debate over the issue. Finally, this past Wednesday, the school’s principal made her decision that the school would remove the sign.
So what’s all the fuss about? What kind of bathroom sign that the school had originally approved could be so offensive? Here’s a picture:
Do you find the sign offensive? Do you think the principal has made the right decision? How would this sort of situation be handled in your country or region?