Concerned about equality at Highland 0

Help make gym classes at Highland Middle School equal for boys and girls

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At the encouragement of many parents and students, we have decided to reactivate this petition. Please read below. All are welcome to show their support by signing and commenting.

In the first 24 hours, the below petition requesting that boys and girls be treated equally in gym class, gathered over 100 signatures from students and parents. The student authors presented the petition to their school’s administration, shared its overwhelming support, and asked for equal treatment for girls and boys in PE class. The school responded as follows:

  • PE teachers and the principal gathered the girls from their PE class, and shared how disappointed the teachers were that students would feel that boys and girls were treated differently (during this time the boys participated in outdoor gym activities).
  • Both the principal and a PE teacher equated the girls' portion of the PE class to needing extra instruction and drills to "one math class being behind another" and needing extra instruction. This is the very definition of "sex bias" (23 Illinois Administrative Code CH. I, S. 200.10- “sex bias means the attribution of behaviors, abilities, interests, values and/or roles to a person or group of persons on the basis of their sex).

Since this meeting with the girls, many voices have come forward wanting to better understand gender equality and how it’s being addressed at HMS. Therefore we have re-opened the petition in hopes that it will keep this issue in the forefront and a positive dialogue can continue.

The original petition is below. Feel free to sign to show your support, and/or leave a comment about any experience or example that you may have. If you feel the need, you can select to remain anonymous.


In gym classes at Highland, boys and girls are separated for many sports and lessons. The law in Illinois says that schools can do this for contact sports like football, basketball, and wrestling. The law also says that if boys and girls are separated, we must have the same lessons. This is not happening at Highland. Girls are being treated like we are less able to play sports. Some girls have told the gym teachers that they want change but have been given excuses and told that "this is how it's always been done". We want to make a change and that is why we hope you sign this petition to make gym classes at Highland equal for boys and girls.

Here are some ways that gym class has been unequal this year:

The Football Unit:

  • The girls had to stay in an extra day to learn the basics of football while the boys got to go out and play football.
  • Our gym teacher told the girls that they couldn’t handle the bigger ball that we chose to use and gave it to the boys instead. The girls then received the small football instead.

The Floor Hockey Unit:

  • The boys got to start playing the very first day of the floor hockey unit while the girls had to do several days of drills and learning the game.
  • The boys have better playing conditions. For example: They get the bigger, better gym while the girls use the multi-purpose room. The boys have more room and don’t have to play through people’s feet who are watching like the girls do.
    The boys also have better goals and were offered goalie equipment.
  • When we asked why the boys get the big gym, the gym teachers said that boys are more "intense" and "rough" and needed more space. When we said that girls can be intense too and suggested rotating gyms, the excuse was made that there are more boys than girls and the boys need more room (but this happens for every grade and every class and there are not more boys than girls overall).

The Basketball Unit:

  • When the class was learning the formation of basketball, our gym teacher asked for 3 boys who play basketball, and just any 3 girls. This made us feel like he was implying that girls don’t play basketball.

Other Random things that have happened:

  • Girls and boys are often separated for random days. Girls have "Girl Days" and play games like dodgeball. Why are the girls and boys separated when we aren't playing contact sports?
  • The gym teacher makes offensive comments on how girls have more body fat than boys and boys have more muscle. This doesn’t apply to everyone and probably shouldn’t be discussed in gym class with middle school students.
  • When the class went outside one day, our teacher made the boys do 15 push-ups, and carry the equipment. On the other hand, he told the girls to just go outside.

As you can see, we have reasons why we feel that boys and girls aren't being treated equally in gym class. What we want changed:

  1. If boys and girls are separated, girls should still be doing the same things as the boys
  2. Switch off gyms for floor hockey
  4. Don't assume girls can't do something (or that boys can)

We hope that getting enough signatures will make the gym teachers listen and make changes. Thank you!

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