A Boy In Gymnastics? Say It Ain’t So?!

Starr Gymnastics

Those of you who follow this blog know that I rarely get bent out of shape and write a post out of anger. The truth is that confrontation, especially online, gives me anxiety so bad that I almost always shut right down and cease to function. That said, a discussion I had earlier this week is still ringing around in my head and I need to get it out.

The discussion was about what activities were available for kids in our area. Included in my list of suggestions was gymnastics, which was immediately met with a scoff. When I asked why, they explained that they didn’t want their son to become, “you know?” to which I calmly answered, “No, I don’t know, please explain”. I then explained how my son was in gymnastics and how much fun he was having with it. They quickly back tracked and tried to explain how their son wasn’t very sporty and blah, blah, blah, the damage was done. Sadly, this isn’t the only case of this I’ve heard lately.

I’m not an expert on the gay community or what triggers the different emotions people feel, but I’m pretty sure that sports have nothing to do with it. When we signed my son up for gymnastics, it had never crossed my mind that it was a sport designated to a specific sex. He has a mix of boys and girls in his class and, more importantly, he loves it more than any of thing we have put him in. THAT is what I am looking for when choosing an activity for my young children, not whether or not they will be teased about it.

This brings me to the thing that bothers me the most about the whole situation. The kids who tease and bully others for doing something that is traditionally done by the opposite sex, don’t get that stereotype out of thin air. They get it from the so-called grownups around them who continue to comment and joke about how it’ll “turn them gay” if they take part. Forget, for a minute, the fact that it is an insult to the entire gay community, but you are also brainwashing your child to see differences as wrong and by doing so you are breeding a whole new generation of hateful behaviour.

Why not try this instead? The next time your child wants to try out a new activity, let them try it out. If they excel at it and love what they are doing, instead of mocking it, try fostering their love for it. There is enough ignorance and hate in the world already without teaching our children that something as simple as choice of sport is worthy of ridicule. Let’s give our children the power to choose without judgement.

My boy likes his gymnastics class, he loves his teacher, he’s doing physical activity and he smiles from ear to ear the whole time. And that’s more than enough for this Dad.

56 replies
  1. Laurie
    Laurie says:

    First, glad you published NOW. It’s never too soon for a post like this 🙂 My almost 9yo loves gymnastics. He isn’t into it competitively (he is actually not so athletic, lol) but he loves the variety, the other kids, etc. At his age, there aren’t many boys left and I think a lot of that is to do with stereotypes and that is just sad. I want my boys to do anything they want – and I really, really don’t want them to think of sports/activities/anything as being just for girls or just for boys. And yes, we are the ones who teach them those stereotypes and we need to accept responsibility for that and try to change how we speak in front of them.

    Reply
    • Chris Read
      Chris Read says:

      I realize that this post won’t change people’s mindsets but it was important for me to get it off my chest. We need to stop pushing these stereotypes on our kids and start teaching them acceptance.

      Reply
  2. Heather Nolan
    Heather Nolan says:

    Agree 100% I only hope DD doesn’t choose hockey, simply because of cost… So no doubt that will be her passion. This year, she’s doing gymnastics too, with many of her male friends.

    Reply
  3. Chris Nichols
    Chris Nichols says:

    Great post! I couldn’t agree more. My 4 1/2 yr old has been doing both gymnastics and Kinderdance at his school and he loves them both. He had a Christmas program for Kinderdance in 2011 and he was the only boy in the group, which is too bad. I’m of the opinion that I’ll let him try anything he wants, and he’ll decide if he likes it or not.

    Reply
  4. Charlene
    Charlene says:

    Best piece of advice I can give to Dads of young boys : PUT THEM IN DANCE.
    Why?
    1.Incredible work out.I’ll put an 18 yr old male dancer head to head with an 18yr old male hockey player and the dancer will be stronger,more flexible and fitter
    2.Most dance schools offer deep discounts for boys (our studio is FREE for boys in their first year and 1/2 price ever after)
    3. It’s a great team & solo sport
    4. Guys who dance are surrounded at least 10:1 by girls.

    Seriously-support your kid no matter what their passions.Ignore the ignorant comments.

    Reply
  5. Crystal
    Crystal says:

    I think that is ridiculous! I know lots of little boys who are in or who were in gymnastics. I don’t think that it is a gender specific post, like at all!

    My son is only 2 and he likes to do EVERYTHING that his big sister does. She is in dance. He loves to dance with her at home and dress up in princess dresses. I have already had comments from family about how I better not ‘let’ him go in dance, and it isn’t funny. You know what? Who cares! He has fun and he enjoys it and he is 2. I don’t care whether he is gay or not – I love HIM and want him to do what he LOVES.

    Uggghhh!! Comments people make like this make me so angry! Good for you Chris for posting this! 🙂

    Reply
      • Lindale Smith
        Lindale Smith says:

        I disagree with everyone’s post here you want to talk about acceptance yet there is not acceptance in the black community who has been oppressed and continued to be targeted by police and other hate groups. it is 2016 and I am still here the N word repeatedly and yet gay’s seem to be the focus of acceptance why is it easier to accept gay people than blacks. . You may say Im not racist i have black friends ask your self this would you let your daughter sister, mother marry a black man and for the majority of white america the answer would be no, now I dnt have a problem with gays do I want my son to be gay no do I think it is a sissy sport for boys to be gymanst yes I do and refuse to let my son participate.

        Reply
        • Caden Thomas
          Caden Thomas says:

          That is fine for that to be your opinion. But I,as a level 7 gymnast at the age of 12 believe you are wrong. Btw, I’m african american too. : )

          Reply
  6. Scatteredmom
    Scatteredmom says:

    People who say that gymnastics is a feminine sport and will turn a boy gay are ignorant and not worth your time. My husband was in gymnastics, hockey, and speed skating as a kid. He was very much a jock and excelled in all three. In fact, he was so good at gymnastics that he performed for Queen Elizabeth. It’s a very, very difficult sport and improves balance and coordination.

    Don’t let it get to you. But you could, if you want, think of what we call in our family as a “snappy comeback”, or something that you can say when faced with this again.

    Reply
    • Chris Read
      Chris Read says:

      I have a lot fo things I would like to respond when I hear it, haha. None of which would be appropriate, however. I do think I’m going to start speaking up more about these types of things instead of saying nothing and then writing about it.

      Reply
  7. Shari G
    Shari G says:

    Honestly my hubby doesn’t want my boys in gymnastics because he thinks it’s for girls too. I said there are a lot of guys who are into it, and it actually takes a real athlete to do it. At this age I think anything that they find fun is what we should be doing with them.

    Reply
  8. Ashley
    Ashley says:

    Julien did gymnastics in the fall, winter and a summer camp. He watched the sport during the olympics last summer and was hooked
    . He loves it (he wont be an olympic athlete, but he has so much fun!) kyle, on the other hand fid not enjoy it at all. I totally agree, kids shoukd be allowed to try out what interests them. Drives me crazy when i hear comments like that. I guess that person would hate to know that if the boys ask, I paint their nails

    Reply
  9. Mark
    Mark says:

    I took gymnastics as a kid, it was one of a bunch of sports I got to try out. Mysteriously none of them changed my sexual preferences.
    The only sports I’m leery of are hockey and football and that’s largely based on the injury potential in them.

    Reply
  10. Dan
    Dan says:

    Good for you on giving your kids a taste of any activity! Both my girls have tried a variety of sports. One of the only sports that didn’t appeal to them was probably hockey/ringette and their hockey loving Dad (loves to watch, but never played) didn’t push them to that sport. It was their choice. My youngest is now in competitive gymnastics and at her club the only boys in the club do Trampolining. In the rec portion of gymnastics there is a great mix of both sexes so there shouldn’t be any labels for any sports or any other activities like Cubs/Scouts. It’s just a new generation to get used to and how most of our introduced to new concepts. Hope he continues to enjoy gymnastics.

    Reply
  11. Tom
    Tom says:

    That logic needs to be applied with everything. Your son wants to do ballet? Great! Your daughter wants to play football? Great.

    Don’t just apply it to sports. As long as they’re not doing something that can physically harm them (at least too badly), let them try it!

    Reply
    • Chris Read
      Chris Read says:

      Of course it does. That’s my point, we have to stop making these ridiculous comments around our kids. Thinking it and pushing it on them are two seperate things.

      Reply
  12. Tad - (ScientologyParent)
    Tad - (ScientologyParent) says:

    My dad was a gymnast in high school and when I was a child, he taught gymnastics at the local Y. I took gymnastics until I ended up too tall & skinny and couldn’t physically do it anymore. My wife and her sister are both gymnasts as well, so naturally, we have our kids involved at an early age – and they totally LOVE it. Photos:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/tadnkat/sets/72157629665059402/

    No matter what sport they choose to be interested in as they grow up, I know that with gymnastics, they’ll at least be strong and flexible – which is useful for EVERYTHING.

    Reply
  13. Educ8Money2Kids
    Educ8Money2Kids says:

    My son has been doing gymnastics for past 2 years and he loves it. His gross motor skills and coordination have benefited from this activity. I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical about enrolling him at first, especially because the majority of the kids in his class were girls. My husband insisted that we enroll him as he saw the long term benefits of the sport. He also told me that he knew a kid in high school who was a gymnast, and was considered cool in school because he could do amazing flips.
    My husband was a jock when he was younger. He was an amazing athlete, but he also danced. He is a very good salsa dancer, and he did folk dancing for 13 years. He was also a dancer on Electric Circus for Much Music back in the day.
    He wants our son to learn how to dance. In his opinion the best way to meet girls, when you are a single, is if you know how to dance. Also if you take dance classes you are the surrounded by girls, which is awesome for a single dude. He believes that if a guy knows how to dance well, he is less likely to get into fights in the bars/clubs. When he was younger and went to clubs/bars, he would dance all night and he would drink mostly water to keep himself hydrated. Even if some of the drunk guys, who were standing by the bar whole night, wanted to pick a fight, he wouldn’t have the energy for it, and by being sober he was always able to get out of situations like that.
    Anyways, just couple of weeks ago I have signed up my son for another gymnastics season. He is starting in September and is very excited.

    Reply
  14. James
    James says:

    Sometimes progress is too slow and people need to speak out assertively to hurry it along a little. Since when is gymnastics not for boys? It takes incredible strength and endurance.

    Reply
  15. Andrea
    Andrea says:

    That’s my attitude too. Now if only we could find something, anything, #2 was interested in… (he did express interest in gymnastics (he’s very physical and tumble-y) but after one class did not want to go back (claimed the class was too long to be away from us 🙁 he is not much of a joiner over all, really a homebody.) He has a friend who has tried many activities and LOVES dance and gymnastics best, and I know the child’s father was a bit wary for all those reasons people sometimes have, but fortunately he has been allowed to stay in the programs he enjoys.

    (I have to admit as someone mentioned above, we have not really offered hockey as an option due to expense, injury potential and if I’m honest, the reputation of the culture around it, but if had been a passion for one of them, we would have found a way–neither boy was even really interested in skating, though! We would have taken the same approach if we’d had girls.)

    Reply
    • Chris Read
      Chris Read says:

      I am thinking of trying my kids out in golf lessons or even guitar for my oldest. Of course that’s just me projecting things I wish I had learned at a young age, hah.

      Reply
  16. Creed
    Creed says:

    Well done. I played hockey as a kid but I couldn’t care less if my son wants to play hockey or be a dancer, as long as he enjoys it. Pigeonholing children into “gender” acceptable activities may inadvertently steer a child away from their calling – maybe their future career.

    Good post.

    Reply
  17. Laura T
    Laura T says:

    I agree, my son has been in gymnastics since he was little and now he is probably one of the strongest kids in his school. And I dare anyone to say that to him! He is 5’9″ and pure muscle, not an ounce of fat on him, and it is all from gymnastics!

    Reply
  18. Wendy
    Wendy says:

    Great post Chris. My DD plays hockey & I have to admit I felt the same when she told me she wanted to play. But when I saw her playing, gender stereotypes flew out the window. Kids should be able to play sports without judgement.
    PS Look forward to seeing you at Blissdom. Congrats on being a team leader!!

    Reply
  19. Nolie
    Nolie says:

    We had ours in gymnastics 2 years ago. Ends up it wasn’t his thing but I believe in letting him try anything he wants. Screw stereotypes they suck.

    Reply
  20. Michèle
    Michèle says:

    Great post Chris…Figure skating may also fall into this mindset..I have a good friend who almost made it pro in figure skating..He’s as much a man’s man as I’ve ever seen.
    I love how you let them try new things out! Good on you!

    And yes, kids learn from their parents…one kid I had briefly in my daycare years ago, said he was allergic to black people!! (at the time I was a substitute provider for a friend of mine on mat leave). OMG I was on him in a heartbeat, firstly,to appologize and then explain to him how that would make her feel. That night I confronted his mother – she had no idea where that would come from…ya right!!
    That was the end of THAT relationship as I would not tolerate that kind of behaviour in my home.

    Reply
  21. Erin
    Erin says:

    What?! Has this person never watched the Olympics? How weird. Normally those idiotic comments are reserved for ballet classes.

    And reiterating what many others have said, dance and gymnastics are amazing for flexibility, coordination and grace (which potential partners of any gender will notice appreciatively!) – as well as being fields of work at the professional level that never have enough men. So wins all round I’d say!

    Reply
  22. Mercedes
    Mercedes says:

    My 9 year old boy and 13 year old boy are both in artistic gymnastic program. They go 17 hrs a week min. Boys at school tell them oh gym is gay but I have thought my boys that those boys learned that from their narrow minded parents. Just who cares. I wish I had smart ass comment to give to those boys!

    Reply
  23. C. Reed
    C. Reed says:

    The boys at school sometimes make fun of my 12 year old for being in gymnastics. . I told him to ask them how many legless rope-climbs they can do.

    Reply

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] activities, as well as my recent experience where I had to explain why it’s okay for my son to want to do gymnastics. As always, I appreciate the opportunity to have my voice heard and always have a great time on the […]

  2. […] Canadian Dad Blog – A Boy In Gymnastics? Say it ain’t so […]

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