Young people address gender issues in P.E

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Young women from the city’s Youth Council singled out their schools’ approach to sport and P.E. as the biggest influence on whether they feel inspired to get active.

The Youth Council had a chat with the Get Set Leeds team earlier this month, sharing loads of good ideas about how the city could become more active.

Suggestions included introducing standing desks in schools, better housing with gardens so all children had somewhere to play, communal dogs people can take out for a walk, and car-free zones.

All the young people agreed there were aspects of life which made it harder to be active in Leeds, from the need to rely on parents for transport to sports or dance clubs, and the expense of going to a gym or swimming pool, to pollution, traffic and litter on the city’s streets.

But the young women spoke out about extra pressures their male peers might not face, including catcalling on the street when jogging, and pressure to look good on social media (‘which you don’t when you’re sweaty’, as one teenager pointed out).

The young women agreed their biggest barrier was the teaching of PE at school, which one participant said ‘creates discrepancies on the basis of gender’. They felt the activities they could choose from were less enjoyable and exciting, and less well respected by the teachers, than the boys’ options. They thought P.E. at school, for girls in particular, could be more fun, less sport-focused and more linked to opportunities to get active in the community. This was identified as a key influencing factor in how active they were likely to be.

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