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4. SUBJECT CHOICES

Biphobic
Homophobic
Sexist
Transphobic

Q1 I want to do Food Technology as I think it would be useful to learn how to cook. All my friends say it is for girls or poofs. What should the schools response be?

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Q2 I am female. After telling the careers advisor that I am creative and would like a job where I use my hands she suggested I become a hair dresser. My male friend said the same thing and she suggested he become a surgeon. Can she do this?

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Q3 I have been told that I cannot play rugby as it is “too rough” for girls. Can I challenge this?

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Q4 All of the artists that we study in school are men. A boy in my class says this is because there are no great women artists. My teacher failed to correct this attitude. Shouldn’t my teacher know better?

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A1

All schools in England are due to make this compulsory for students between the ages of 11-14 very soon. This is because the government believes healthy eating is a basic requirement that needs teaching. If your school is in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland you might suggest it is taken up voluntarily to reflect this important matter. Regardless, your school should encourage all pupils, regardless of sexual orientation or gender, to select the subjects most useful and appropriate to them. Where Food Technology is tied in with ideas of femininity and/or male homosexuality your school must challenge these gender stereotypes.

  1. Your school has a duty to promote all lessons as equally valid for boys and girls. This includes those subjects, such as Home Economics, traditionally deemed to be geared for one gender only. The legislation which covers this is known as The Gender Equality Duty [2007]. All schools must instigate policies to challenge these types of ideas. Ask your school how they are doing this.

  2. To associate girls with cooking and the running of the home is sexist. Teachers must examine why there are more girls than boys in this class and undertake ways of redressing this under the The Gender Equality Duty [2007]. If they do not do this not only are they breaching these guidelines but they are effectively promoting indirect sexual discrimination which is illegal under the Sexual Discrimination Act [1986].

  3. The Gender Equality Duty [2007] also promotes the inclusion of children and young people who do not fit gender stereotypes regardless of sexual orientation so even if your peers continued to think cooking is for girls your school must support you in your wish to do it.

  4. The assumption that any boy who undertakes Food Technology is gay is homophobic. The Equality Act (Sexual Orientation Regulations) [2007] could be used against your school in a complaint if you receive less favorable treatment than the girls who do this class (i.e. you get picked on) because your real or perceived sexual orientation is being used against you. The Gender Equality Duty [2007] could also be called on since such an idea implies that being gay is incompatible with being a man, and also that ‘real’ men should not do such ‘feminine’ tasks as cooking. This perpetuates rigid gender stereotypes. Your teacher has a duty to try and prevent this happening.

  5. Under The School Inspections Act [1996] Ofsted is required to evaluate how far the education your school offers meets the needs of all of the pupils. This is especially relevant with subjects such as Food Technology where some young people may feel under pressure to take or leave the subject for fear of what it may inadvertently say about them. This Act also requires Ofsted to evaluate the social and cultural development of all pupils. Failure to teach boys cooking skills perpetuates the idea that cooking is a woman’s job which is increasingly out of step with social ideas of equality, both inside and outside of the home.

  6. The national framework for PSHE should underpin individual schools’ equal opportunity policies by providing a context for pupils to learn the effects of stereotyping and discrimination, and give pupils the skills to challenge the prejudice of others assertively. Point this out to your teacher.

  7. Under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) education should develop your personality and talents to the full (Article 29). Schools have a duty to protect your human rights.

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A2

No, a careers advisor should not do this.

  1. Such a response is inadequate for both you and your friend since it relies on gender stereotypes. Under The Gender Equality Duty [2007] your teacher should be aware of this and offer you both a range of career options to consider that are based around your wishes and skills rather than your gender.

  2. Article 14 of the Human Rights Act [1998] allows freedom from discrimination on the grounds of gender (NB: Article 14 can only be used in a court of law if you think that other breaches of your human rights have occurred as well – i.e. you need at least two Articles to have a claim).
  3. Such an answer also has a very real economic impact were you and your friend to follow the advice, since surgeons earn more than hairdressers. By ignoring this fact the advisor is falling short of government guidance known as Youth Matters [2005] and Every Child Matters [2003]. Specific aims of these are that every child and young person achieves economic well being.

  4. Similarly, if your school has achieved (or wants to achieve) Healthy School status such advice is inadequate.

  5. The School Inspections Act [1996] requires Ofsted to evaluate how far the education your school offers (which includes career advice) meets the needs of all pupils. Such sexist advice is potentially not meeting anyone’s needs. It also looks at the quality of the education being provided. It sounds as though your careers advisor needs some further training.

  6. Under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) education is supposed to develop your personality and talents to the full. If you feel becoming a hair dresser does not do this point this out to your school.
  7. The national framework for PSHE should underpin individual schools’ equal opportunity policies by providing a context for pupils to learn the effects of stereotyping and discrimination, and give pupils the skills to challenge the prejudice of others assertively. Point this out to your teacher.

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A3

Possibly.

  1. You can challenge this using The Gender Equality Duty [2007] since such an assertion implies that girls are fragile and weak whereas boys are tough and strong.

  2. The Gender Equality Duty [2007] promotes the inclusion of children and young people who do not fit gender stereotypes. This may mean that you could argue that you are just as tough as the boys and should be allowed to join in. If your school does not allow this you could say that they are failing to support you in how you express your gender.

  3. However, you may still not be able to play if the school has a different (and genuine) reason for excluding girls. For instance, schools are able to segregate activities into single sex groups providing they have a strong case for doing so. Frequently this boils down to results and learning outcomes. Ask your school what their issue is with mixed sports lessons. If it is because all the other schools in your area forbid mixed teams for the purposes of matches you could try arguing that you accept you would never have a place on the school team but that you still wish to participate in lessons.

  4. The School Inspections Act [1996] requires Ofsted to evaluate how far the education your school offers meets the needs of all pupils. By disallowing girls to play rugby you could argue that your needs are not being met.

  5. Your school may argue that they cannot allow mixed teams due to health and safety protocols, arguing that the risk to girls is too great.They may quote Article 36 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) at you which says that they have a duty to protect you from any activities that may cause you harm. You could try:

      • Pointing out that the UNCRC also says that schools must consult with pupils on decisions that affect them (Article 12) and that education is meant to develop children and young people’s personality and talents to the full (Article 29)

      • Pointing out that the national framework for PSHE is intended to allow pupils to learn the effects of stereotyping and discrimination, as well as giving pupils the skills to challenge the prejudice of others and that this would be an ideal opportunity to make such policy a reality
      • Ask for girl’s training sessions and a girl’s team.

  6. Article 14 of the Human Rights Act [1998] allows freedom from discrimination on the grounds of gender (However, Article 14 can only be used in a court of law if you think that other breaches of your human rights have occurred as well – i.e. you need at least two Articles to have a claim).

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A4

Yes, your teacher should have corrected this pupil because there are hundreds of great women artists. Numbers may be lower than figures for men but this is due historically to the sexism within the Art establishment and wider society.

  1. Your teacher should contact the National Portrait Gallery and/or The National Gallery Education departments or look at wikipedia.org/Women_artists if they are finding it hard to think of examples of great women artists.

  2. Such a statement is sexist and must be challenged.

  3. Your school is failing to adhere to The Gender Equality Duty [2007] through a lack of provision of female role models and suitably broad discussion of types of artist.

  4. The School Inspections Act [1996] requires Ofsted to evaluate the quality of the education provided in your school - clearly your teacher needs to learn about some other artists. It also looks at how far the education your school offers meets the needs of all of its pupils – no-one’s needs (regardless of gender) are being met if pupils are led to assume that only men can be great artists. Failure to teach about women artists also stunts the cultural development of all pupils (another area Ofsted are on the look out for).

  5. The national framework for PSHE should underpin individual schools’ equal opportunity policies by providing a context for pupils to learn the effects of stereotyping and discrimination, and give pupils the skills to challenge the prejudice of others assertively. Point this out to your teacher.

  6. Under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) education must develop children and young people’s personality and talents to the full (Article 29). This may be far harder for girls if they fail to see female role models. It also says that you should be protected from any activities (and arguably, by extension, lack of) that harm your development (Article 36). Schools have a duty to protect your human rights.

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