Two amazing parents I follow on social media have recently shared their child’s struggles with finding a place in varying daily childhood activities. Personally, I have been struggling with the same concepts as I prepare for my twins to enter kindergarten this fall.
Again and again I see children split into two categories, whether in school, for activity groups, sports, you name it. These categories, more often than not, are “boys” and “girls”. If we stop to think, what are we telling young children? Separating boys and girls at such a young age is the equivalent of screaming at them “you are different and should be treated that way!” When I think about this I think about my own son Michael.
While Michael does identify as a boy he relates more to girls and enjoys more “girl” activities. Telling a gender creative child like Michael that he must be with the boys is like a giant slap in the face; telling him he shouldn’t like to hang out with the girls and it’s not ok that he relates more to the opposite sex. The issue is further compounded by having to be around boys that he may not relate well to and who very well may be teasing him.
Splitting children into boy groups and girl groups are not setting our children up for effectively co-existing with the other sex later in life. Society is incredibly diverse, most women work at some point in her life, even if choosing to stay home at one point to raise babies (same goes for dads too!).
In competitive settings such as sports or spelling bees, separating girls and boys implies that only one gender can be better than the other. Keeping teams or groups mixed implies to children they must work together for better productivity and cohesiveness both in the workplace and at home.
To obtain a culture that eliminates gender biases and inequality then we must start teaching children at a young age to coexist. We can not set an example that it’s boys vs girls by always dividing them.
If it’s necessary to split children up into smaller groups just get creative! Who likes ice cream and who likes cake? Who likes to color who likes to paint? There are many ways to segregate that isn’t based on gender, race, religion, etc. In the end our children will learn to be more inclusive and work together in life leading to a society that promotes equality between genders.