HONG KONG — Government officials in China believe that boys are getting more effeminate and want to toughen them up.

In the latest attempt to tackle what academics and news outlets call a “masculinity crisis,” the Education Ministry has proposed emphasizing the “spirit of yang,” or male attributes, by hiring more sports instructors and redesigning physical education classes in elementary and secondary schools.

The plan, a response to a top official’s call to “prevent the feminization of male youths,” was released last week. It included no timeline and few other details, but it prompted an outcry online and is still stirring fierce debate on social media. One hashtag has been viewed 1.5 billion times on Weibo, a popular microblogging platform.

Some social media users expressed support for the proposal, with one writing, “It’s hard to imagine such effeminate boys can defend their country when an outside invasion looms.” But others saw evidence of sexual discrimination and the perpetuation of gender stereotypes.

pampered children, mostly boys, born under its one-child policy, a more stringent idea

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