Brief description of the issue
The world of sports and physical activity is strongly stereotypical and divided according to gender. For children who are questioning their gender identity, physical education classes can rapidly become unbearable. It is also a place where a lot of gender stereotypes are being reinforced: “running/throwing/playing like a girl”, positive reinforcement of boys, link between masculinity and sport, etc. For students that aren’t endorsing gender stereotypes, physical education classes can be a place where they get bullied. It is therefore very important to make sure we create a safe space where all students can actualize their full potential regardless of their gender, their sexual orientation or their gender identity.
According to research conducted by the LGBT Family Coalition, “physical education classes and sports are specific and unique contexts where public performance of physicality renders youth vulnerable to gender stereotyping.” This organization also offers specific training sessions on physical education and sport, and can come directly to your school. Read this brochure to know more about their program.
You can also start to take action now by creating mix or gender-neutral toilets that will allow students that are not comfortable to enter either boys’ or girls’ changing rooms to change themselves in a safe environment and fully participate in the school’s sporting activities. Here are a few neutral symbols you can print out to identify clearly those places.
To create a safer space in your work environment, print out this poster to show your support to LGTBQ+ students.
To go further:
LGBT FAMILY COALITION (n.d.). Sexual and gender diversity in physical education and sports, accessible at: https://www.familleslgbt.org/documents/pdf/brochure_phys-ed_en.pdf