LESSON

Gender Bias and Homophobia in Sports

This lesson discusses common characteristics and stereotypes that are associated with athletes.
Grade Level
3-5

Objectives

Activities will help students:

  • identify qualities that they associate with male and female athletes;
  • identify the attitudes they have about gender, sexual orientation, and athletics;
  • understand what stereotypes are and how they harm and limit people;
  • find positive images that show men and women that have qualities that they did not see as “positive” for each gender, and
  • make a collage using the images and descriptive words.
Essential Questions
  • What characteristics do you associate with athletes? Which are positive and which are negative for male athletes? Which are positive and which are negative for female athletes?
  • How do gender stereotypes and homophobia affect students?
  • What can you do at your school to change homophobic attitudes?
Materials

Vocabulary 

homophobia [ˌhōməˈfōbēə ] (noun) The irrational fear or antipathy toward LGBT people and homosexuality.

stereotypes [ ˈsterēəˌtīp; ˈsti(ə)r- ] (noun) A set of preconceived ideas or beliefs, usually negative, over-generalized to all or most members of a group based on their membership in that group. Stereotypes can be based on race or ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, ability, physical appearance, class or socioeconomic status, occupation, etc.

 

Procedure

1. Show some pictures of athletes. (Note: As an alternative to digital pictures, consider using old magazines to assemble pictures.)

Ask students: what words do you think of when you see the pictures? What words would you use to describe the athletes? Write the words down on a chart that looks like this:

Words to describe athletes

Girls/Women

Boys/Men

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

 

2. Lead students in a discussion: Look at the first word on the list. Do you think it is a good quality for a boy or man to have? If so, have a volunteer put a check mark in the column that’s called “Boys/Men.” Do you think it is a good quality for a girl or woman to have? If so, have a volunteer put a check mark in the column that’s called “Girls/Women.”

3. Have a volunteer read aloud the words that your class thinks are good qualities for men. Have another volunteer read aloud the words that your class thinks are good qualities for women. Are any of the “positive” words the same for both men and women? Which ones? Which words are different? Why do you think that they are different?

4. A stereotype is an assumption made about an individual based on group membership. Look at the chart again. Which of the words on the chart are stereotypes about men and women, and about athletes? How can you tell that they’re stereotypes? As a class, talk about how stereotypes can devalue and hurt people.

5. Try rethinking the stereotypes identified on the chart. In old magazines and/or on the Internet, tell students to find pictures of male and female athletes who have the all or most of the traits your class identified. Ask students to make a collage with the pictures. They cab write the words from your class’s list on cards or pieces of paper. They should include them in the collage.

6. Share the collages. As a class, discuss what you learned about stereotypes of men and women athletes. Students can also answer these questions in a journal.

  • Do I have stereotypical ideas about gender and sports?
  • What can we at our school do develop more positive relationships that dispel stereotypes and misinformation about sports and gender?
  • How might knowing what I know now affect what I say to people or things that I do?
  • What have I learned? What would I like to know more about this topic?