Prince Harry and Meghan back group that accuses parents of ‘gendering’ unborn children

Prince Harry and Meghan - Matt Dunham/PA
Prince Harry and Meghan - Matt Dunham/PA
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The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are backing a campaign group working in UK schools that accuses parents of “gendering” their unborn children.

Prince Harry and his wife Meghan’s podcast, Archetypes, has a partnership with the Global Boyhood Initiative, a group which aims to “promote gender equity by fostering positive masculinity in boys and men”.

The Global Boyhood Initiative has created a curriculum which is being piloted in London schools and encourages primary school children to question “gender norms”.

“The State of UK Boys”, a report published last year by the group, suggested that families and schools are “gender and heterosexuality ‘factories’” and gender is “not tied to sex organs”.

The report also states that “parents may begin gendering their children even before birth based on the identification of external genitalia in scans, including through elaborate ‘gender reveal’ parties and a stream of purchases along gender lines”.

It adds: “While the family is a place of nurturing and support for many children, it can also be where gender and sexuality are regulated and policed, as many of our interviewees and much research suggest.”

'Boys will be boys'

The report argues that the statement “boys will be boys” could be dangerous. It objects to public representations of boys and boyhood as “in opposition to and distinct from girls and as naturally predisposed to behave in particular ways”.

It said that “this fixed conception is particularly problematic when it implies that male violence or harassment of women springs from innate impulses”.

David Bartlett, a co-author of the report, is the project lead on the group’s UK initiative, which argues that “we need a generation of boys who are not influenced by restrictive gender stereotypes” and “can build and sustain healthy, respectful, caring relationships”.

The curriculum, which the group hopes to roll out in schools across the UK, is designed to be taught in relationships and sex education lessons.

Children aged between seven and 11 will learn about “the role gender norms play in their lives through activity-based questioning and critical reflection,” according to the group’s website. They will also be encouraged to “explore equitable, inclusive and nonviolent attitudes and behaviours in a safe and comfortable space” and “internalise these new gender attitudes and norms by applying them in their relationships and lives”.

'Extreme position on gender ideology'

It comes amid a reported rise in demand from schools seeking to address “toxic masculinity” and misogyny in the wake of toxic influencers such as Andrew Tate.

However, concerns have been raised about external groups teaching about relationships and sex education in schools.

Miriam Cates, the Conservative MP, said she was worried that a stated aim of the Global Boyhood Initiative’s relationships and sex education curriculum was to train young children to become “agents of change for gender and social justice”.

She said: “Attempting to ‘re-educate’ small children for reasons of political activism is indoctrination and an abuse of the trust that children place in teachers and parents place in schools.”

She added: “It is also concerning that the Global Boyhood Initiative says they have widened their net to include ‘children of all genders’, which suggests they hold to an extreme position on gender ideology.”

Tanya Carter, of Safe Schools Alliance UK, said: “Children are male or female, boys or girls. We don’t understand why a school would need to get an outside agency in to challenge gender stereotypes in a primary school. This is done very simply by ensuring all children get equal access to resources and that no activities are deemed ‘for boys’ or ‘for girls’.

“Of course children shouldn’t be limited by their sex in a primary school and gender stereotypes should be challenged, but this is school culture stuff. Schools must be very careful that anything delivered to children is for their benefit and not because adults want to spread their particular worldview.”

The partnership between Archetypes and the Global Boyhood Initiative includes guides on how to coach boys on healthy masculinity, and how men can be an “ally” in the home and workplace. Archetypes is not a partner with the campaign group’s schools curriculum programme.

The Global Boyhood Initiative was founded in 2020 by Equimundo, a US-based gender equality group and the Kering Foundation, a French violence against women foundation.

Archewell was approached for comment.