Lego My Gender Role
There has been an email thread going around between a bunch of parents about gender, bullying and toys. I know this is not a new subject for parents to discuss, but it has been interesting to see how many parents have all responded to this one specific issue. J goes to an after school activity called Lego Engineering where kids build different cars, cities, bridges, etc. out of Lego products. There is only one girl in the class and she came home upset about being picked on because she was the only girl and felt that this wasn’t the class for her. Responses have been pouring in commenting on how to handle this situation.
I spoke with J about the importance of inclusion and that all kids have a right to play with whatever toys and people that they are comfortable with. He responded that he didn’t know she was being picked on and that he thought that it was cool that she was in the class. Other parents have responded with options to buy pink Lego blocks and to have the female teacher talk to the class about why she likes Lego engineering. I have found it interesting that kids are still feeling so caught up in gender roles and expectations that they are teasing a girl for being into (what I consider) gender neutral toys. This article from Newsweek says that 75% of bullying comes from biases like this.
This whole business shocked me because I remember being 6 years old and my babysitter (female) had a ton of Lego’s and I loved to sit in the living room and build houses. I was so proud of myself the day I figured out how to build a roof and not have my house look like a primary color contemporary design home. I loved that there were Lego flowers and made up stories about the people who lived in my Lego homes. I never viewed this as girl or boy activity, I just liked it. I had mostly male friends at that time and never felt picked on for being a girl during Lego, bike riding or any other time.
I am happy that parents are talking and trying to find ways to encourage kids to break down these boundaries around gender. Hopefully, this will help future generations of kids not have pre-conceived notions about gender. I feel that the best way to encourage kids to not see activities as belonging to one gender or another is to keep an open dialogue about the importance of these activities to a person as opposed to a gender and to always support them as they explore and show interest so that they know there is always someone on their side.
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