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Should Gym have a Gender?
By: Julia P., Grade 12, Holy Heart High School, St. John's, NF

Gym has been offered at Holy Heart High School since it opened. But in September 2001 there will be changes. As of September, students will have the choice of entering an all female, all male, or co-ed gym class. The main reason for the changes, in my opinion, is to increase the number of girls enrolling in gym. But, why is there a need for such acts? Do girls not want to exercise in school or are they not comfortable in gym class? Will these new changes work or will students continue to choose co-ed gym classes?

As a girl, and a gym class student, I believe that the changes being made are for the better even though they sound a little strange. I find it sad that today, in the 21st Century, to entice girls to enroll in gym class that the school must offer an all girl class. Unfortunately, there are approximately 15- 20 boys and 4 - 8 girls in all gym classes. It’s my opinion, from experience and from watching other girls, that most girls are not comfortable in gym. Often girls feel intimidated, shy, embarrassed and even frustrated with how they are treated in gym class. A major concern is if girls feel like this they do not speak up in class and end up being left out in group activities.

For example, my friend and I wanted to join the half court basketball game instead of shooting like we did last class. We both stood on the side with the guys who were playing but nobody said anything to us. So, after a few minutes we both decided it was too much trouble to play. This incident upset my friend. It made her angry. Not because she didn’t get to play. But because she thought that even if she did get to play she would be excluded and the guys wouldn’t pass her the ball. Even though they were her friends, during a game of basketball she felt she would be invisible. Girls also feel excluded because they might not know as much about sports as guys do.

Unfortunately, even if some girls do know things about sports they won’t speak up because they feel intimidated by an overwhelming class of boys. Many times, a simple reason why certain girls don’t enroll in gym is that they may not feel there is enough time to shower and be ready for the next class.

My hypothesis regarding results of the new gym classes is that it will entice more girls to join gym and will help boost their self-confidence. Being quiet and excluded in any class doesn’t have a positive effect on anyone`s self-confidence. In contrast, participating in all activities, learning about sports and having friends in class is an excellent way to gain self-esteem. Perhaps, girls that would never think of joining gym would now knowing that it would be with all girls. Maybe even quiet boys who are nervous around girls may rather be in class with all boys. These separate classes may reduce competition or “show-offs”- those people who try their hardest to impress all by being a hot shot. Often it is hard for new classes to obtain enough students to form a class but in my opinion the female classes will definitely succeed.

In the 21st Century, if it’s in the workplace, home, government or anywhere in the world, equality of men and women is promoted. Although I am for the changes in gym classes I feel that this is almost like taking a step backwards for the development of equality between the sexes. If students in gym class cannot promote equality and fair play then how can our generation expect to promote equality in the world when we grow up.

In my opinion, most boys will choose co-ed gym classes because they are probably sick of playing with guys all the time. Boys also love having a few girls around to display their superior abilities in sports. Girls, on the other hand, have so many different societal factors influencing them as to whether they will to participate in gym or not.

Whatever happens, for the school to have to try this, in my mind, is a step in the right place..

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