The Ten Ten Hub
Addressing Gender Stereotypes
RSHE Curriculum / RSHE Deep Dive / Secondary / Primary / Catholic / Church of England
Writer: Anna Bailey
“Hmmm … it looks like a tampax advert!”
This was the response of my male friend (on more than one occasion!) when we were discussing the colours on a poster for events we were organising at university. I knew what he meant and we laughed about it, but it always bothered me that certain colours were ‘for girls’ and others ‘for boys’. If you have ever walked down the aisles of a children’s toy shop, you’ll have seen this played out on a huge scale.
For a moment, swap the aisles of a toy shop to the school doorways of Afghanistan, where we have learnt in recent weeks that female students are no longer welcome into secondary schools and we see how detrimental gender stereotyping can be in the pursuit of human flourishing. In recent years, there have been many campaigns to combat gender stereotypes and to promote gender equality between men and women. You may remember the powerful Always #likeagirl films and advertisements. In our Ten Ten resources, we ensure that the message of equality is loud and clear and that discrimination and bullying is never acceptable.
As we encourage our children and young people to grow in their identity through Relationships, Sex and Health Education, our starting point is that we want to share with them the beautiful truth that they are made in the image and likeness of God. A God who is love and who loves them deeply.
“So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.”
Our Christian faith teaches us that as human beings, we are different from other created things. While we share certain common instincts and drives with the rest of creation – for example, hunger, sex and survival – we are separated from the rest of creation through our intellect and will.
While we may be created male and female, we firmly believe that our gender doesn’t determine whether we’ll like cars or crafting, boxing or biking, blue or burgundy, dancing or drama. These are things that are not related to our gender, but can be conditioned by our cultural context.
We are also conscious that there are different ideas on the understanding of equality, freedom and fluidity of sexuality and gender and the government asks educators to share these different perspectives with students in secondary schools.
At Ten Ten, our KS1 ‘Boys and Girls’ lesson is all about celebrating our God-given bodies and the things they enable us to do! In an age-appropriate way, children will be encouraged to notice similarities and celebrate differences between girls and boys. There is also an optional section for discussing external body parts (genitalia). Teachers leading this session should refer to the RSE Policy in the school to establish whether discussing genitalia is appropriate for the age and stage of your children.
When students reach Year 8, our ‘Appreciating Differences’ lesson builds on the teaching that our deepest identity is in God, students will learn about male/female differences, including issues such as gender stereotypes, gender dysphoria and what it means to be transgender. Equality is championed as being of great importance, whilst simultaneously crucial is celebrating difference. Students will learn that bullying and exclusion is always wrong, because every person is a child of God, worthy of love.