Top sports official says boys must be taught ballet and zumba to make PE gender neutral

Boys in ballet

A top sports official at a leading organisation has said that boys must be taught ballet and zumba in school to keep PE gender neutral.

Chief executive of Women in Sport, Ruth Holdaway, stressed that it was important that young males in school must be given the chance to experiment with different exercises that are not “traditionally” male.

Billy Elliot

Billy Elliot (Universal Pictures and Focus Features)

Holdaway made the comments as recently released statistics show that girls as young as six are losing interest in sport and exercise because of certain stereotypes.

Speaking to The Daily Telegraph, Holdaway stressed that it was important that both female and male students had the opportunity to try a range of sporting activities.

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“Boys should be offered a full range of activities in sport. It might contribute to breaking down stereotypes – why shouldn’t a boy be a dancer?

“Of course they can be, and we know there are wonderful male ballerinas.

“Boys should see dance as just as much something they can enjoy as it is for girls.”

She went on to explain that often they see that as young boys become more interested in sport, young girls become less interested and Holdaway wants to combat this.

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“For girls, around the age of six or seven they are starting to drop out of sport. What is particularly interesting is that this is the same time that boys start doing more,” she said.

“What seems to be happening is up until that age, boys and girls feel the same – they just run around, they don’t think about what they are doing, they will explore, they will climb.

“But there is something going on around that age that age boys start to understand sport is something they should be doing, they can do, they get recognised for, and they get encouraged to do.”

Holdaway added that it was important to offer both boys and girls the same opportunity when it comes to PE and to keep sports gender neutral.

She said: “It is all part of the same issue – if the boys get to play football and cricket and the girls play rounders and have a dance class – you are not offering girls the same opportunities.

“Often you will be surprised if you ask girls what they want there will be an assumption that they want to do dance and many of them will.

“But they might also want to play football or cricket whatever,” she added.