Schools told to encourage boys to play netball and dance to ‘balance gender’

Daily Mail (UK) 27 Dec 07
Schools have been told to encourage boys to play netball and take dancing lessons in a bid to promote “gender equality”. The move which sees boys moving on to the traditionally female netball court is part of a Government drive to ensure that school children are more ‘gender balanced’. Every local authority in the country had to publish a “gender equality scheme” earlier this year to meet new anti-discrimination legislation. As a result hundreds of schools have adopted schemes that suggest boys should take up traditionally female pursuits – and vice versa. Schools most also ensure that more girls study traditionally masculine subjects such as science. In preparing their guidelines for schools, a string of councils around the country, including Plymouth Leicester, Nottingham and Buckinghamshire posed the question: “Do you encourage girls to participate in rugby, cricket, football and basketball and boys in netball, rounders, badminton and dance?” Schools are encouraged to develop “open-minded attitudes” and promote positive role models for boys and girls. They are also asked: “Does your school challenge gender stereotyping?” The plan is a response to updated sex discrimination legislation that says it is unlawful for schools to provide classes for only one sex where this would amount to less favourable treatment of the other sex. It has been taken by some cautious schools to mean that not offering netball lessons to boys is discriminatory. However, some head teachers fear that council guidelines suggesting sports lessons be expanded to offer the same options to boys and girls could be a step too far. Last night Mick Brookes, the general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: “It doesn’t make sense to promote things to boys that they don’t want to do, simply so you can tick a box on a form.”;jsessionid=5HNPDKK4W0B2DQFIQMFSFFWAVCBQ0IV0?xml=/news/2007/12/27/netball127.xml&site=5&page=0