The Equal Classroom : Life-Changing Thinking About Gender book cover
1st Edition

The Equal Classroom
Life-Changing Thinking About Gender

ISBN 9781138491007
Published October 23, 2019 by Routledge
304 Pages 8 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

How much thinking have you done about gender?

What does it feel like to be gay, trans or non-binary at school?

How unbiased, safe and inclusive are our teachers, our schools and our systems, and what can we do about it?

The time is ripe for a re-think, and the issues are pressing. Our pupils are grappling with challenges around gender and sexuality, and they need our well-informed support. Providing evidence, prompts and the space to explore the implications, restrictions and constructs of gender, this book is here to help every teacher reflect on issues around gender roles and expectations in their class.

In this challenging and potent book, experts, academics and campaigners join forces to contribute important perspectives to complement Rycroft-Smith’s own accessible and often provocative explanations of many facets of gender and sexuality, including media, literature, toys, clothing, sexism, expectations, sexuality, gender roles, harassment and consent. Humour and anecdotes are thoughtfully intertwined with fascinating insights into biological and cultural perspectives and societal norms, highlighting why it’s so vital to teach pupils about gender issues, as well as modelling consent, good quality relationships and tolerance to children at all ages and stages of their school career.

Providing clear, practical policy recommendations in an accessible and engaging way, The Equal Classroom is an essential read for any teacher or education professional who wants to ensure their school is a place where all pupils feel truly welcome and able to flourish, comfortable and safe in their emerging identities.

Table of Contents


List of Contributors


Chapter 1 Gender identities: social and cultural

Chapter 2 Expert view: teaching gender

Kath Tayler

Chapter 3 Gender identities: brains and biology

Chapter 4 Expert view: gender from an early age

Jayne Osgood

Chapter 5 Gendered expectations

Chapter 6 Toys

Chapter 7 Expert view: let toys be toys

Jess Day

Chapter 8 Sexism and sexual harassment

Chapter 9 Clothing and uniform

Chapter 10 Expert view: gendered clothing

Francesca Cambridge Mallen

Chapter 11 Language and the media

Chapter 12 Trans people, trans issues

Chapter 13 Expert view: trans pupils and the early years

Deborah Price

Chapter 14 Sexuality and sexualities

Chapter 15 Relationships and PSHE education

Chapter 16 Sports and physical education

Chapter 17 Sex, touch and consent

Chapter 18 Books, games and literature

Chapter 19 Expert view: gender in classroom texts

Roussel de Carvalho

Chapter 20 Conclusion


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Lucy Rycroft-Smith is an education researcher and writer working at Cambridge University. Lucy is co-editor of Flip the System UK: A Teachers’ Manifesto (Routledge, 2017).

Graham Andre is a primary school teacher and was involved with the BBC2 BAFTA nominated documentary No More Boys and Girls: Can Our Kids Go Gender Free?


"The Equal Classroom shines a timely light on current behaviour and attitudes about gender – gender identities, gender roles, gender expectations. It is a thought-provoking text on the role of schools in exposing the limitations imposed by existing gender stereotypes, offering an intriguing and accessible mix of personal narrative, of statistics for the curious, of exercises for the diligent and of expert opinion for the help-seekers. With musings from teachers working on the front line, from academic researchers and education specialists, there are clear and practical recommendations on how to shine a challenging light on gendered practices and, importantly, how to change them." - Gina Rippon, Professor Emeritus of Cognitive NeuroImaging, Aston Brain Centre, Aston University, Birmingham, and author of The Gendered Brain

"The subtitle, ‘Life-changing thinking about gender’, undersells the scope of the book. This is not just about gender but about so much more... Rycroft-Smith strengthens her points with quantitative and qualitative research throughout to great effect, without ever presenting dry academic text." - Claire Nicholls, Schools Week

"This is a challenging book which, while geared to a school audience, covers many relevant aspects of the issue such as identities, expectations, media and toys. Humour and anecdotes are mixed with insights into biological and cultural perspectives and societal norms." – Nursery World