We’re looking forward to tonight’s BBC2 documentary ‘No more boys and girls’. Here’s why we wish they’d picked another title.
Tonight’s BBC documentary ‘No more boys and girls‘ applies well-established classroom research showing that when schools challenge gender stereotypes, and encourage children to pick their interests and play from the full range available, there are real educational and social benefits. It’s a shame that the programme makers have chosen a title, and hashtag #nomoreboysandgirls that suggests that the aim is to make all children the same. Unfortunately many people will only ever see the title, and while the title is clearly provoking a reaction, it’s not calculated to engage people in a meaningful discussion.
And that’s a shame. Because this stuff really matters.
As a campaign, we’ve always avoided terms like ‘gender neutral’ because they alienate people. Neutral sounds negative and boring. But limiting children’s choices and opportunities is a pretty negative thing to do. We believe all children should have the chance to pick the colours, toys, clothes, interests, school subjects and jobs that suit them, and not be limited by what someone else has decided is ‘for girls’ or ‘for boys’. And that means using language and marketing that’s inclusive, instead of colour coding or labelling interests or activities by gender. This article by one of our campaigners explains why ‘gender neutral’ doesn’t describe this well.
We feel confident the show will demonstrate the many ways children benefit when they’re encouraged to be their whole selves. It would be a shame if this important discussion is hijacked by the suggestion that the aim is to turn everything beige! So while we’ll take part in discussions on the #nomoreboysandgirls and #nmbg hashtags, we very much wish they’d chosen something else…
We’re looking forward to watching the programme tonight at 9pm – you can follow our reactions live on our Twitter account: @lettoysbetoys
For more information on challenging stereotypes in the classroom: