Open letter urges Government to equalise gender opportunity in physical education

24 Jun 2021

A new education code mandating equal sport offerings between the sexes should be adopted to ensure that both boys and girls have an opportunity to play sports such as football in school, argues an open letter sent to the Secretaries of State for Education and Digital, Culture, Media and Sport today (24 June 2021).

Initiated by 16-year-old secondary school pupil Katherine Allen - whose own experience at school was that only boys were offered football - the open letter is proffered by a partnership between Professor Eric Anderson, University of Winchester, and Stacy Hart on behalf of the Women's Equality Party.

Among the forty signatories are Manchester United and England footballers Abbie McManus, Ella Toone and Kirsty Smith and experts from the Universities of Winchester, Chichester, Solent and Bath Spa.

Data from 288 English secondary schools following a Freedom of Information request by Professor Eric Anderson revealed that many of the top ten activities delivered to each sex are the same, but boys tend to be offered football, cricket, basketball, and rugby union, whereas girls are offered netball, gymnastics and dance.

Currently, the Equalities Act 2010 stipulates that schools must 'regard' matters of unequal distribution of resources to children. In Physical Education schools must offer equal opportunities to participate in comparable sporting activities.

The open letter argues that: "What is comparable, and fair, becomes a matter of headteacher's choice, informed by cultural association of female physical inferiority and male disinterest and thereby perpetuates those stereotypes anew, with the bullying and negative health implications that accompany them for those that transgress gendered norms. This exception to the Equalities Act therefore diminishes opportunities for children of both sexes."

A new education code mandating equal sport offerings between the sexes would allow schools to continue to offer sports appropriate to their culture and facilities and to protect children from undue physical risk, the open letter maintains. It would also promote equality of athletic opportunity between the sexes and the inclusion of non-binary, trans, and intersexed children.

The open letter and list of signatories are available to do wnloadat this link: 


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