Gender roles still prevalent in gym classes


Students in Ms. Fields Fitness for Life class practice shooting baskets at the YWCA. Photo: Sera Mugeta

Sera Mugeta, Staff Writer

Peeking into a normal gym class period, you’ll see the majority of students being active and engaged in classroom activities. That’s what you’re supposed to do in gym class, obviously,  but it’s easy to notice that one group of people sitting along side the wall on their phones, doing anything than playing badminton or engaging in a fun game of air hockey.

It’s inevitable that there will be unmotivated people in any gym class, but it’s become noticeable that girls in fitness for life classes at South aren’t participating as much in activities during gym class. It’s also been noticed by people that students that there’s a broad divide in gender at South.

Gender segregation has always been a big issue in public and private high schools across the United States. Although there are laws created that try to eliminate these stereotypes like the Title IX law created in 1972, they can’t monitor what goes on in schools all across the country.

So being in a health or Fitness for Life class, participation is the key to an ‘A’. Fitness for Life is usually divided up into multiple different units based on sports like soccer, football, speedball, and more. The sports aren’t difficult, but usually classes often divide into a non-competitive and a competitive group. It just so happens that the competitive side consists of mostly boys and the non-competitive side consists of mostly girls but the reasons behind this aren’t friendly.

Of course there’s nothing wrong with wanting to go into a league that you feel more comfortable in, but what if the case is that you want to play in the non-competitive group but your identified gender and/ or friends play in the other?

“It’s competitive versus noncompetitive. [The students] divide themselves to where they feel they belong,” Fitness for Life teacher Carol Allery said, talking about segregation in South gym classes.

“In the games that we play, the students divide themselves into where they want to go. Being a competitive side and a non-competitive side. Is one side always boys? No. Similar to one side not always being girls,” Allery concluded.

“There are people that participate in class and people that don’t. It has nothing to do with if you’re a boy or a girl,” Christopher Valez, a former student of Brenda Frizvold, another fitness for life teacher, stated. Many students that are currently enrolled in Fitness for Life have very similar opinions to Allery and Valez. They feel that there isn’t any deep gender segregation in the gym classes at South.

However, some students feel the complete opposite way and think that there is something that’s not being said about gender segregation in gym classrooms.

“Girls aren’t encouraged to participate competitively early on when they’re young,” junior Gabby Ayana stated. “It’s just how it’s set up. It’s a childhood thing.”

“I think it depends on the teacher too,” senior Betsy Calle added on with agreement to Ayana. “Cause with Allery there’s no one who sits out because she want’s everyone to be engaged and active.”

Ayana is currently in Allery’s Fitness for Life class, while Calle had Allery last year and Friz sophomore year.