'Boy masks' and 'girl masks' in schools show how gender stereotypes still exist

Tobi Akingbade
Wednesday 09 September 2020 06:00
news
(iStock)

A mother has shared that her eight-year-old daughter was "annoyed" when given a gendered mask at school.

As children return to their classrooms following months away due to coronavirus, things like masks, hand sanitizer and social distancing are essential.

But Dr Catherine Lebel wasn't happy when her daughter came home from school with a pink mask covered in kisses, while her brother had plain blue mask.

Dr. Lebel shared a photo of the two masks on Twitter proving that one was printed with love-hearts and kisses reading 'xoxo'.

When she tweeted a picture of the masks, her page was flooded with responses with hundreds of social media followers calling out the school for handing out the garments. Many branded the masks as sexist.

Speaking to the Mirror, she said:

I am irritated by this, but not outraged. Certainly this is not the biggest thing we have to worry about right now, and I am glad to see the school providing masks.

However, it seems unnecessary to promote gender stereotypes and I think it’s important to call them out when I see them.

The gendering just seems unnecessary. Masks are masks and can be for whoever they fit.

We try really hard not to talk about things being only for girls or boys and I really want kids (not just my own) to grow up with a sense of equal opportunity. 

Social media users also found the gendering of marks a little unnecessary.

This user made a suggestion. Something that would be useful for kids and their learning:

Other users felt that the schools are trying their best:

A spokesman for Alberta's Municipal Affairs said:

The masks came in a wide variety of colours and patterns from Old Navy and IFR Workwear, and our government had absolutely zero input in deciding which colours were sent. The sole goal of the masks is preventing the spread of COVID-19, not fashion statements or political agendas. If parents do not like the specific provided masks, they are free to take their concerns to their local schools or purchase other masks.

While it is great that children are given masks that are a little more fun, especially in the middle of a pandemic, perhaps we should leave pink "for girls" and blue "for boys" in the pre-Covid era?

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