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Parents annoyed about son wearing dress EYFS

Discussion in 'Early Years' started by AMartin1234, Oct 12, 2019.

  1. AMartin1234

    AMartin1234 New commenter

    So a parent is annoyed because she saw on Tapestry that her summer born 4 year old son, in reception, was dancing around in a dress. She told me it’s not ok in her culture (eastern European) and her husband is a strict Muslim so they’re upset this occurred.
    I explained it was one occasion and he was exploring the role play and he chose to dress up. My TA observed it as he was exploring the role play, with others, using his imagination.
    Just saw today she added a comment on Tapestry saying they disagree with him wearing a dress and they aren’t happy with the school.
    I know there’s nothing wrong with it, it’s just a child exploring and pretending. He has a little sister who no doubt dresses up too. I’m not going to tell him not to dress up if he wants to. But, this was one occasion. He hasn’t done it again.
    Maybe I should steer him away if does try to put a dress on again, out of respect for the parents wishes. Any thoughts?
    I’m going to meet with the parent on Monday and sort this out. I’ll remove/hide the observation if they want.
    I’m new to teaching so any advice would be great. Thanks!
  2. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Pass it on to your phase leader or head teacher.
    If parents start to say they aren't happy with the school, then you need to give senior staff the heads up before the parent appears at their door ranting and raving. You shouldn't be meeting with them to sort out anything.

    Definitely don't offer to hide the observation, or you will destroy all trust in your setting as they will wonder what else their son does that you just don't put on Tapestry.

    And stop looking at Tapestry on a Sunday!
    AMartin1234, robspillane and pepper5 like this.
  3. TeacherMan19

    TeacherMan19 Occasional commenter

    Yep. Don't look at Tapestry on a Sunday. Tell the boss. Stand firm that it is a part of learning and you encourage children to make independent choices.
  4. AMartin1234

    AMartin1234 New commenter

    Thanks for your replies.
    The headteacher is aware and I will let my lead know about it tomorrow, she’s been off sick.
    Yes, no more thinking about work on a Sunday!
  5. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    I didn't say that!

    20+ years in and I still think about teaching pretty much every single day of the year in some guise or other.
    I'd like to pretend it is because I am so very dedicated, but actually it's because I have no life to take my mind off it! :D
  6. alex_teccy

    alex_teccy Star commenter

    What "role-play" were these 4 year olds doing?
  7. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    And this matters because...?
  8. alex_teccy

    alex_teccy Star commenter

    Because the context is hugely important, and I don't want to jump the gun, there's a difference between playing dressing up with a random outfits, and getting kids to take part in an activity where they are encoraged to explore gender expression.
    One is play, the other an experiment in socialisation on children.
  9. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Give me strength!!! :rolleyes:
    If common sense regarding the teaching of four year olds doesn't reassure you, then presumably the explanation by the OP will!
    Words such as 'exploring', 'chose', 'imagination' 'observed' and 'with others' should make it obvious this was part of free play.

    Add to this, the observation was recorded in the learning journal. Adult dictated tasks generally are not and certainly don't count as 'observations'.
    welshwales and littlejackhorner like this.
  10. alex_teccy

    alex_teccy Star commenter

    Unfortunately when it comes to this particular matter common sense does not prevail, so why the incredulity? You may be aware, for example that children as young as three have been presented to the Tavistok clinic. So what I was asking was not that far out at all, given that matters of gender identity are presented to children in Primary school. The BBC has created materials for schools that teach children of primary school age that there may be 100 genders.
    The verbal clues you mentioned do not make it obvious at all, given that the leanguage you described could be used in almost any educational context, indeed the word "explore" is entirely that kind of language that blank-slaters would use.

    I get that it may have not been a directed activity, but does that mean it was not constructed, for example in the choices presented to the children?
  11. Sir Cumference

    Sir Cumference Occasional commenter

    I strongly believe in encouraging children to make choices. However, I also strongly believe that the wishes of parents should be taken seriously and that, in this instance, you should explain the activity to the parents but then agree to ensure that it doesn't happen again because their approach to raising their own child is paramount.
    alex_teccy likes this.
  12. neddyfonk

    neddyfonk Lead commenter

    Extract from a document I created after a Governors meeting:

    At the last full governing body meeting on 7th November 2017 I raised concerns about an item in the PSHE and Citizenship Policy about Upper KS2 – Discrete provision that I thought had been oversimplified by not involving parents in the decision making process when ‘a young person questions their gender identity’.

    Regardless of whether or not a parent is aware or approves of their childs’ feelings about their gender everything a school does with or for a child is governed by a contract between all stakeholders involved in the educational process.. If the school decides to depart from the standard contract to allow a pupil to be treated differently from other pupils the parents must be made aware and challenge or agree, especially if any school policy has to be set aside or adjusted to cater to the situation which other parents/pupils may object to or take advantage of. Good examples of this would be allowing exceptions to school uniform policy, use of toilet facilities, privacy when getting changed or using a ‘preferred name’ rather than the one on their birth certificate.

    The scenario where an agreement is made solely with a pupil is fraught with dangers if it becomes common knowledge in the community that a child is being treated differently without the parents knowledge or consent and an outraged parent can do untold damage to a school’s reputation either via the media or withdrawing their child.

    Soliciting the views of a parent about gender orientation is probably better done preemptively across the whole school rather than being confronted with an unknown with potential safeguarding issues when a pupil has disclosed their feelings.

    The decision a school makes if it was not initiated by a parent is a very delicate matter. Some parents will not take kindly to the idea that their child might be given a label that is an affront to their personal/moral or religious beliefs.
    alex_teccy likes this.
  13. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    If you promise to make sure it doesn't happen again, then are you going to ban all boys from "female" dressing up or are you going to find yourself in the position of telling one child they can't when others are.

    It's a difficult one, but perhaps it's worth talking to the parents about exploratory play with this age-group. With all the media stuff on transgender issues at the moment, possibly they are more fearful than they should be. Just because they put on a lion outfit doesn't mean they think they're a lion. If they can be reassured that many boys will try on the dressing-up box dresses in reception, but show no signs of any gender issues as they move up the school, perhaps that will help.

    Of course, it may well be the case that having tried it once, the boy won't bother doing so again - and if parents have communicated their displeasure to him, even more likely. You can't really do much about what they say to him.

    Whilst I take the point about gender identity, I think that's unlikely to be relevant here; the genuine gender identity cases are vastly outweighed by those who are "just dressing-up". (There is indeed an issue about educating parents so that those whose children do turn out to have gender issues are properly supported, but that's more than should be expected of an individual teacher, and the chances are that this child does not have gender issues.)
  14. neddyfonk

    neddyfonk Lead commenter

    I think you will find many people who are Muslims (in this case), Jewish, Russian Orthodox and others perceive cross-dressing to be either promoting homosexuality or simply wrong (violating their faith ). I suspect Muslim faith schools would never have an issue because they would not allow boys to wear a dress from a role play dressing up box.
    alex_teccy likes this.
  15. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    I wonder what people would make of the boys in my class dressing up as dinosaurs, dogs, cows, princesses, superheroes, etc.
    Where do some people want us to stop?
    No Freddie, you can't wear the princess dress...it's for girls only.
    No Susie, you can't wear the superhero cape...it's for boys only.
    Suddenly Susie's and Freddie's parents are claiming the school is sexist!
    Schools really can't win.
    zippygeorgeandben and welshwales like this.
  16. AMartin1234

    AMartin1234 New commenter

    The little boy chose to put on a pink fairy dress which was part of the role play, home area. He danced around in it for a few minutes then took it off. My TA photographed as it was a moment of natural exploration and expression.

    There have been dresses available in the outside role play area and he hasn’t put any on. I expect his parents have told him it’s not ok, which is their prerogative.

    My headteacher is going to talk to the parents if they want to discuss it further.

    Thanks for your replies.
  17. meggyd

    meggyd Lead commenter

    I am amazed that this is an issue. When my children were small I remember that some parents were wary of the hairdressers/ jewellry section of the home corner and were told that this was part of the learning experience and that was that. If he is from a Muslim background he has surely seen men in long robes at the mosque.....not much different from some long dresses.
  18. zippygeorgeandben

    zippygeorgeandben Occasional commenter

    My word I haven't posted in a while but some of the comments on this thread are bonkers. Caterpillartobutterfly - I FEEL YOUR PAIN. Lots of concerns in this thread. I do not think you should be meeting this parent and don't take it personally but I do not think you are experienced enough yet to deal with this alone. If the parents aren't happy with the school, well they can leave. No one is forcing them to stay.

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