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Australia 'Audits' Children's Books to Make Sure 'Gender' Isn't 'Labelled'

a boy holds up cut outs of a man and a woman, looking confused as he chooses between them.

Australian officials are combing through children's books — and toys — in kindergartens, schools, and libraries, aiming not just to promote "gender neutral" options but to avoid "gender stereotyping" of any kind.

At least two city councils in the Australian state of Victoria — Manningham and Melbourne, specifically — have started "auditing" children's books, ultimately considering a kind of ban on the terms "boy" and "girl."

The effort follows research from the Australian National University showing that children were influenced by "gender stereotyping." The research suggested that educators should "minimise the extent to which gender is labelled" and avoid telling children what girls and boys should do, News.com.au reported.

In seeking to undermine "gender stereotypes," activists seem willing to promote confusion among children, undermining the important discoveries kids make about gender early in life.

Parents were none to pleased to hear the news.

"For goodness sake, this is social engineering gone crazy," Marie Hardwick wrote on Facebook. "Leave kids alone to be kids. Stop trying to destroy kids' childhoods."

Sarah Lovejoy, mother of a 2-year-old daughter, responded to a video on the Australian TV show Sunrise's Facebook page.

"This needs to stop. I’ve got a two-year-old daughter (yes I picked her gender based on what genitals she was born with) and she plays with cars, trains, tractors, Barbies, dolls and uses her imagination and pretends she’s cooking food or being a doctor," Lovejoy argued. "Let’s just let kids be kids."

"Banning the availability of anything, or taking choice away, is definitely the wrong way to go about making classrooms gender neutral," Billie Deborah Chin wrote. "It should be about making everything available to everyone."

Defenders of the idea cited studies showing that girls and boys develop gender preferences early in life and that toys are becoming more gender stereotyped. "The research is actually very interesting," commentator Cath Webber said. "What they're telling people to do is ... don't tell girls they have to play with Barbies and don't tell boys they have to play with Lego."

Webber insisted that the female deficit of interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) may trace back to the idea that Legos are for boys. Lego actually makes a broad range of toys — for boys and girls — and it is arguably likely that boys generally gravitate toward objects more and girls generally gravitate toward people.

As The Wall Street Journal's Michael Taube noted, Australia's social justice warriors attempted to maintain calm, assuring parents that their kids' Winnie the Pooh and Thomas the Tank Engine books were safe. Tania King, one of the authors of the recent paper on minimizing gender "labelling," argued that the entire hubbub emerged from one line misquoted from her 40-page literature review.