In one of Berlin’s areas, in Schöneberg, the so-called The rainbow garden will open. It is planned that the majority of the day center staff will be LGBTQ people.
The children’s daycare center, which will open in the spring of 2023, will increase queer visibility and representation. The said day center is part of a pilot project initiated by the Gay Counseling Service of Berlin.
The director of the day center, Marcel de Groot, explains the pedagogical approach in the pilot gardens. The concept is the same as other, typical daycare centers, with one difference — in experimental kindergartens, it will be clear to the children from the beginning that in addition to heterosexual couples, there are also queer couples, and this is a part of life. According to de Groot, queer visibility for children will be available through books in which not only a prince and a princess, but a prince and a prince fall in love. By convention, 3 out of 10 books will have queer characters. According to the concept, if the children are not heterosexual, this knowledge will make it easier for them to accept themselves.
“Parents hope that they will find more acceptance with us than at other day care centers,” says Grout.
The kindergarten is intended for 93 children. According to todaytimeslive.com, as of October 1, 2022, the number of those wishing to enroll in the kindergarten was 60.
In an article published in berliner-zeitung.de, one of the children’s parents said that she and her partner, who have children together, would welcome the opening of such a daycare center.
“Rainbow families in our circle of acquaintances have wanted a similar center for a long time. This is because many of them have experienced discrimination in day care centers.”
The mother, who chose to remain anonymous, says she has to walk a long distance every day to take her son to the said day care center. She said she would rather travel half an hour more but have her son in a center that is more accepting and representative of queer people.
In this day center, in which, like other kindergartens, it is explained to the children that in addition to heterosexual couples, there are also queer couples. In addition, they share the information they need about sexuality education, which involves covering age-appropriate topics, for example: knowing your own body, recognizing signs of abuse and reporting it to adults, saying “no” when you feel uncomfortable, setting/protecting boundaries, and similar issues.
Information was spread about the connection with the kindergarten of sociologist Rudiger Lautman, who in 1994 published the book “Longing for children. A portrait of a pedophile”. According to him, he wanted to scientifically explain the behavior of criminals, but because part of the public understood it as a call for the legalization of pedophilia, he withdrew the book from sales. In addition, according to the managing director Marcel de Groot, Lautman has no connection with the day care center.
Queer contacted Marika Artmeladze, a pre-school education specialist living in Berlin, who works as a teacher in one of Berlin’s kindergartens.
According to Marika, the spread information, as if the said day center will help to “change” the sexuality of children, is incorrect.
“It will promote acceptance,” says Marika.
According to her, in general, one of the tasks of German kindergartens is to prepare children for living in a diverse society and not to single out people from different grounds.
“Our society is diverse, it consists of individuals and each of them is important. One of the tasks of the kindergarten education system is to prepare children for life in a diverse society, and the kindergarten is one of the first places where conscious education and parenting concepts are introduced, through which the introduction of diversity of consciousness should be created. The fact that diversity can have any effect on a child’s sexual development is an absolute absurdity, and those people who tax it, have no possibility of any scientific substantiation,” says Marika.
She emphasizes that it is very important for the child to get used to the diversity of people from the kindergarten age. According to Marika, it is her duty as an educator to support all children in their individuality.
“There are children who come from the ‘Regenbogenfamilie’, aka the ‘Rainbow Family’; There are children with queer parents; There are children whose parents are separated; There are children whose family involves relationships between men and women. This variety exists in Germany, and kindergarten is one of the first places where a child gains experience.”
According to Marika, German kindergartens are guided by the concept of the World Health Organization, which was developed in 2011 in relation to children’s sexual education. In the Berlin Education Regulations, which governs the Berlin Kindergartens, one of the clauses is health, and sex education and the promotion of sex education is a subsection of health.
“This means knowing about your own body, keeping boundaries, saying ‘no’, asking for help, etc. This is a very broad spectrum and it would be very wrong to reduce it and compare it with the sexuality of adults and say that children are being “perverted”, – says Marika.