A controversial, government-approved curriculum in which gender is described as a social construct that young children discover, rather than a biological fact at birth, will be rolled out across Spain in the next school year, it has emerged.
The country’s Council of Ministers approved an amended version of the new curriculum for Early Childhood Education on Tuesday, which for the first time creates state-regulated guidance for children aged six and lower.
The evaluation criteria will only be guidance, at least, and thus autonomous communities are not mandated to comply with its suggestions.
Despite objections to a number of key terms in an earlier version of the curriculum proposed by socialist Isabel Celaá, the country’s former education minister, the Spanish government has retained controversial phrases which reference the “construction of gender” and the “discovery of sexuality,” indicating that should autonomous communities implement the government’s suggested curriculum, children aged six and lower could be taught that gender is not binary, and be encouraged to explore their preferred gender and sexuality.
Under Celaá’s previous proposals, teachers would have been expected to actively “encourage the personal discovery of sexuality and the construction of gender through values of equality and non-stereotyped models.”
The objective of the Early Childhood Education curriculum approved by Pilar Alegría, the country’s current education minister, is to “progressively develop and lay the foundations that facilitate the maximum development of each boy and each girl.”
Spanish children will be taught to achieve “personal autonomy” and to “develop a positive, balanced and egalitarian image of themselves, free from sexist or discriminatory stereotypes.”
The Spanish newspaper El Mundo reported how autonomous communities will now be expected to amend textbooks and develop updated content based on the new guidance, something which Catalonia has already begun to do.
Criticism of the government plans is widespread, with the Ministry of Education for the community of Madrid already criticizing the proposals last autumn when they stated it was “inappropriate” to teach young children about the construction of genders.
The right-wing populist party, Vox, has also slammed the plans, with the party’s leader in Madrid claiming children are now “defenseless against the gender laws of [Prime Minister] Sánchez.”
The Alianza Contra el Borrado de las Mujeres, a platform that represents a plethora of feminist organizations fighting against the erasure of women also berated the proposals, with association member spokeswoman Tasia Aránguez insisting it is “very dangerous for schools to feed the idea that children can be born in a body wrong.
“It’s a false idea,” added Aránguez, a professor in the Department of Philosophy of Law at the University of Granada. “Dysphoria cannot and should not be romanticized. The human species has two sexes: females and males. The idea is spreading among minors that biological sex does not exist and that is unscientific.”