No boys allowed: Bainbridge Island teacher imposes ban on popular activity

Nov 13, 2015, 3:24 PM | Updated: Nov 16, 2015, 7:54 am
Boys are not allowed to play with Legos in this Bainbridge Island kindergarten class, as part of a ...
Boys are not allowed to play with Legos in this Bainbridge Island kindergarten class, as part of a teacher's effort to create gender equity. (AP)

A Bainbridge Island teacher is giving a lesson that has parents on edge. The lesson plan: Boys can’t play with Legos.

The Bainbridge Island Review reports that Karen Keller, a kindergarten teacher at Blakely Elementary, is tackling the issue of gender equity by not allowing the boys in her class to play with Legos.

“I always tell the boys, ‘You’re going to have a turn,'” Keller told the Review. “And I’m like, ‘Yeah, when hell freezes over’ in my head.”

“I tell them, ‘You’ll have a turn’ because I don’t want them to feel bad,” she said.

The Lego-restricted lesson plan doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson.

“Maybe they feel bad because you tell them they are going to have a turn when you don’t intend to give them a turn,” Dori said.

“If I was a parent of a boy in that class, I’d get them out of there … we’ve gone insane in our public schools,” he said. “This Bainbridge Island kindergarten class is just another example of how insane it’s all gotten.”

The restriction is personal for Dori, who has three daughters. For him, Legos are for everybody.

“At the Monson house, when my girls were little, we had a huge amount of Duplos,” he said. “The thing we loved doing with the Duplos was building a tower as tall as possible. We got it up to as tall as I could reach &#8212 and I’m not the tallest guy. Then I put my daughter on my shoulders and she tried to top it off. Then we got out a chair. We did that stuff all the time.”

“As the father of three daughters, my girls enjoyed the Legos and Duplos,” Dori said.

Keller told the Review that her ban on Legos is a way to pursue gender equity. She noticed that boys in her class often gravitated toward the Legos. Girls, on the other hand, may not have felt as comfortable getting into them, and usually played with crayons or dolls. Keller hopes that by giving girls special access to the blocks, it will improve their spacial and math skills.

But Legos know no gender, according to Dori, who believes that sometimes girls do like the more stereotypical girly things, and boys actually like boyish things.

“Why? Why do we have to change things like that?” Dori asked. “If girls want to play with dolls &#8212 and my girls were never into dolls &#8212 but if girls want to play with dolls and boys want to play with Legos, why do we have adults in the public schools who feel like they have to make a social statement about gender equity?”

While the KIRO Radio host applauded the effort to improve math skills with girls, he maintained that Legos aren’t a tool for a social statement, especially one where kids are thrown in the middle.

“That’s fine, but why deny boys that?” he said. “Even though I’m a father of girls and I’m a coach of girls, why do we have to tear down boys to elevate girls? Why would we lie to boys and say ‘you’re going to have a turn?'”

“If some girls would rather play with dolls, who cares?” Dori added. “Let them play with dolls.”

Dori Monson on KIRO Newsradio 97.3 FM
  • listen to dori monsonTune in to KIRO Newsradio weekdays at 12 noon for The Dori Monson Show.

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No boys allowed: Bainbridge Island teacher imposes ban on popular activity