A RALLY to demand gender equality in school sports is being held in Basingstoke.

Schools in Basingstoke are being invited to the event on June 27 to discuss the issue of gender equality in sports.

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The campaign was launched by Sherfield School pupil Katie Allen, who joined forces with the Basingstoke Women’s Equality Party (WEP) to launch a petition calling on the government to make equal sporting opportunities for all genders a legal requirement.

More than 10,000 people signed the petition which was backed by Manchester United and England footballers Abbie McManus, Ella Toone, and Kirsty Smith.

The campaign celebrated a success earlier this year when the House of Lords recommended that guidance should be issued to schools.

Now, Katie and WEP Basingstoke are hoping to spread the message further by hosting the rally at Winklebury Football Complex on June 27, from 4pm to 5.30pm, to encourage borough schools to lead the way. 

Katie said: “Many students are made to feel out of place in school sport just because of their gender. It causes inequality from day one.

"Students can feel awkward in PE lessons as the sport they want to play is only played by the other gender. This makes people feel like it's not okay that they play that sport, which is not right.”

Katie will be joined by Professor Eric Anderson of Winchester University at the free event, supported by Hampshire Football Association and Basingstoke Boot Room. 

Everyone is invited to come along to hear about the campaign and show their support, and join in with football games and exercises for children under their parents’ supervision.

Data collected by Professor Anderson from 288 English secondary schools shows that boys tend to be offered football, cricket, basketball, and rugby union, whereas girls are offered netball, gymnastics and dance.

WE Basingstoke is writing to all local schools inviting them to the rally to discuss the issue and to urge them to make any necessary changes to their curriculum.

Stacy Hart, WE Basingstoke’s branch leader, said: “Our win on the House of Lords recommendations shows that the evidence sent to them backs our assertion - that segregated sports in schools is damaging.

“Gender stereotyping harms kids’ potential, and there’s no reason that all kids shouldn’t be offered all the sports a school teaches within the school day.

“The aim of our rally is to encourage Basingstoke schools to move forward on this ahead of the coming guidance; WE would love to be able to say that Basingstoke schools are UK leaders in school sports equality, because equality really is better for everyone.”

Professor Anderson added: “The House of Lords recommendations for the Department for Education were a good start; now we urge all Basingstoke schools to be progressive on this issue for the sake of children’s mental and physical health and wellbeing.

“It would be a really positive move ahead of the Women’s Euros this summer which England are hosting.”

For more details or get in touch with any questions on the Facebook event @wepbasingstoke or on basingstoke@womensequality.org.uk.

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