Jan 30, 2013

Boys

I have it on the best authority-- the father of a 4 year old-- that figure skates make you gay.

This intelligence was offered to me when I suggested that the child, decked out in full hockey regalia for a tot skating class, would be better off in figure skates, as he couldn't stand up in the hockey skates (this is common with very young children, and everyone else). The dad flatly refused, citing the above problem. Of  course I laughed, but no. He wasn't joking. Figure skates at the age of four will fatally determine your sexual orientation later in life.

Who knew.

I just started at a new rink that takes gender segregation on the ice to a whole new level. In my five classes, there are more than 60 girls, and 6 boys.  Four of the boys are in hockey skates, and they are being steered out of the skating classes and into the hockey classes, sometimes against both their and their parents preference.

This switch is promoted as "he'll be happier in hockey," "he just wants to go fast," and of course the tried and true-- figure skating is for girls, and hockey is for boys.

Of course there are also several girls in the classes who would be happier in hockey and just want to go fast, but I don't see anyone suggesting that they try hockey skating.

Because they're girls.

My radical proposal is that going over to the other side be a test requirement at around the Gamma level, or its hockey correlation, the travel team tryouts. Want to take a Gamma class? You have to spend a month in hockey skates learning what that's like. Want to try out for a travel team? Same deal-- a month in figure skates. And then we need to let them choose, to not make the boys feel like they're less than male for choosing the "wrong" sport.

Furthermore, we seriously need to give our boys the ability to choose. I was talking about this with my musician son the other day. He went to a nurturing progressive school where his musical ability was very much honored and yet he apparently still felt pressure about doing a "girl" thing.

We are losing a lot of talent. The boys who go into hockey who ought to be in figure skates don't become fantastic hockey players. They just quit altogether. The girls have a little easier time of it, as a lot of figure skaters switch to hockey in their teens in order to qualify for college scholarships (and that's another whole essay). The beginner girls who ought to be in hockey wash out at the more precise demands of figure skating-- they don't knuckle down, they just quit.

Let the kids do what they do well. Their private parts have nothing to do with whether they skate with toe picks or shoulder pads.

49 comments:

  1. Yeah, I heard that from a number of parents too... I basically told them if they did the first tot classes in hockey skates, they'd never play hockey because they would hate skating. I could usually bargain 3 lessons in figure skates before we moved back to hockey skates. The ones who never put figure skates on generally quit after 5 lessons without being able to stand up. (A talented few made it in hockey skates.)

    That said, I know of a Mom who fervently blamed a local coach for making her son (who had been figure skating for 8 years) gay. Apparently it is contagious? (I think the actual case was having a positive role model made it easier for the skater to come out. It really is amazing how much it is still hidden, even in skating)

    ReplyDelete
  2. I agree with some points, but disagree with some as well.

    I think that making spending 1 month in a place where the child doesn't want to be (and/or the parents do not support) is way too much. You'd loose some kids there. Why would I pay for something my child does not want to do, and why would I pay for a class my kid takes and where some other kids do not want to be (and do not work hard, disrupt the class, etc.)

    Now, while certainly any type of skates does not make you gay, I understand and agree with some of the stereotypes. I think figure skating is good for girls - it teaches elegance and artistry, enhances understanding and appreciation of music, etc. It is a sport, too. And many other things. I am not saying it's not good for boys, but I do understand the parents of boys who want their boys to learn something else: being fast, fearless, aggressive (in a good way - aggressive player), good defender, etc. Some of these qualities are developed in figure skating too, but not all. Hockey is harsh. The players bump into each other on purpose, push each other, etc. These are not necessarily the things I want my girls to be doing as their main activity. And I see so much that figure skating can give to my girls that hockey cannot. Personally, I wouldn't support my girls playing hockey. Of course, this depends on the child, and it's just so obvious that my "girly" girls just don't belong in hockey. Some girls definitely do.

    Maria, mom of 2 skaters: pre-pre and Basic 7

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I see no problem with boys also learning elegance and artistry, understanding of music, or with girls learning to be fearless and aggressive, so I object to the premise out of hand. I also think a lot of "girly" girls wouldn't be, if given the opportunity to step out of their assigned, expected roles.

      As far as deliberate physical contact, number one, the boys shouldn't be doing that either, but second, any teacher worth her salt is just going to stop it, and if you think girls don't have that impulse, you've never seen a high freestyle session at the Ice Rink of the Damned.

      Okay, maybe a month is a little long, but how about a couple of sessions in each class? How about a trade-your-sport day where everyone in hockey goes to FS and vice versa.

      Delete
    2. Parents know their children and their goals better after all. You may think that sometimes you know other people's children better, but frankly, this will only irritate the parents.

      I am 100% convinced that (1) I know my girls, and (2) I do not want to pay even for two classes of hockey right now. If they ever want to try, I'll sign them up for a trial class. I see no point in such requirement. I'd miss that day and do a make up class later. If you insisted on hockey, you'd lose me as a customer. I'd just go to another rink. Or switch to private lessons only.

      Maria

      Delete
    3. As an adult skater - and female engineer - I would say the point is that you learn how to use the blade because you see what the difference is between the hockey and the figure blades. You also learn how hockey skaters move on the ice for safety's sake in public sessions. And you can learn different skills due to the different equipment - some of which may translate to your original sport.
      It sounds as if you are just as threatened by a pick-less skate as the 4-year-old boy's dad is of the skate with toepick.

      Delete
    4. Anyone who thinks that female figure skaters don't have balls of brass have never watched a high level session with girls learning double axels and triple jumps. Leaping into the air and spinning around that many times and falling over and over again until they learn the jump is, quite frankly, both outright aggressive and nervy. I've heard it said that a double axel is one of the more challenging physical skills across any sport, and man, I believe it.

      There is nothing "girly girl" about that part of figure skating. Any "girl girls" who are afraid of coming home with NFL type bumps and bruises, split chins, bloodied hands, and who don't have the mental tenacity to get up after a hard fall and do it all over again aren't going to make it very far in this sport. Even in high level synchro, I've seen the prettiest girly girls continue skating with bloody gashes on their legs from a pile-up in practice. And don't even get me started on pairs. Competitive skating beyond maybe artistic or interpretive is NOT a sport for girly girls. It's the X Games. I don't care how many crystals someone sews on a costume or how many ballet classes they take to hide the fact that these kids are warriors.

      Delete
    5. My girls are not afraid of anything. Neither am I. We just dislike a sport where they have to bump into each other and push each other on purpose. They do like the high demand of the sport of the figure skating. They wouldn't be where they are now if they didn't.

      OK, here is a better explanation of what I meant. If you say make it a requirement that figure skaters and hockey players switch classes for any length of time, then let's make it a requirement everywhere: basketball players have to switch with soccer players for a session as well. Because may be they will like the other sport, and may be they will do better there. Who cares if they want to switch, even for one session! And each ballet class has to switch with a hip-hop class. And each music school has to switch with an art studio, too. You see my point? When the kids and/or parents want to try something, they will. Why make them?

      Maria

      Delete
    6. I honestly see no reason kids should try all sorts of sports, school subjects, music, etc. because 1) they might find something they do like that they didn't think they would like, and 2) there's something to be said for well-rounded kids who can get through a challenge even when it's not something "fun." I think that understanding how the other half(s) live only makes them overall better human beings in the long run and more understanding and empathetic.

      Really, though, that's a parenting choice.

      Where I bristle is when people assign boys or girls characteristics based on traditional stereotypes or their own expectations of what is right and proper for a boy or a girl in the way of what is essentially a hobby. Skating hasn't made my tomboy daughter any more of a girly girl than it will make my son gay. Taking math and science classes doesn't make kids geeky. Etc., etc. I know two young teens girls who participate in wrestling in otherwise all boy leagues. Boys will forfeit matches, sometimes because they don't want to "hurt" the girls...but later, when they saw the girls dusting the guys, the boys started forfeiting because they said out loud that they "didn't want to be beaten by a girl." Shame on them. And shame on their parents. And shame on the coaches.

      Delete
    7. I'm all for trying many different things. I just think that it should be our choice what and when to do. Coupons for free trial lessons will be much appreciated. I just don't like to be told/required to do something I (or my kids) don't necessarily want to do right now, when it's a hobby. In school - yes, that's a different story. Well, if the school decides that every child must try hockey (as well as 20 other sports) for their GE, I won't say a word. Just not as a requirement in a figure skating class which we do in our free time as a hobby.

      Maria

      P.S. I played hockey when I was younger (but an adult, and it was my choice to try). I am not afraid of those skates. I just dislike the sport. Too rough for me.

      Delete
    8. Marie, and that's the dilemma-- parents are mostly pretty savvy when it comes to their kids. And the times they get it wrong on something as inconsequential as which skates, well the kids can work it out in therapy when they're 40 ;). But my concern for the sport is that boys are simply never offered figure skating as an option.

      Delete
  3. If you could see the data I am currently looking at, you would be shocked to see the cost of being fast, fearless, aggressive, good defender etc. on college-level hockey player's brain function. Just chuck those hockey-skate-wearing kids to the lions now and save 12 years of coaching, travel and equipment cost!
    -PhD neuroscientist mom of helmet-wearing-forever Basic 8

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Frankly, all figure skaters should also be required to wear protective head gear. The resistance to this from the sport is arrogant at best and criminally negligent at worst.

      Delete
  4. Sometimes it is just hard to find convincing arguments for such dads. The facts are not always helpful. There is only one adult male figure skater at our rink. And a few boys in LTS. I don't know about the boys in LTS (they are kids!), but it is a fact that the only adult male figure skater is gay.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Which is the self-reinforcing reality of the current system. Kids who are already social outliers (although this is changing I hope) are the ones with the original thinking, strength of character and plain chutzpah necessary to make the socially suspicious choice.

      Delete
  5. Speaking at an adult male heterosexual figure skater -- I get really tired of those stereotypes.

    Figure skating requires strength, perseverance, courage, grace... there is nothing "wimpy" about figure skating. Boys can learn a lot in skating, and if they stick it out they will be around girls who are the cream of the crop :-) -- smart, hard-working, talented, determined.

    The natural ally in this, Xan, would be the female hockey players. If girls had a choice they would recruit more, and fairness would dictate that boys would have a choice, too.

    ReplyDelete
  6. My answer to this "It's going to turn your son gay" is "well, if I were a homophobe, I suppose that would be a problem."

    I know plenty of gay and lesbian people, and the great majority of them don't exhibit any of the stereotypical characteristics. I'm guessing there are gay teens who play hockey and lesbians who dance ballet, and no one is the wiser that their kid is sharing a locker room.

    ReplyDelete
  7. This mentality is still so common it's sad. But you are not going to change people like that. Hockey players who take figure skating edge and power lessons end up being really good players because they can really move (wow, they can skate backwards!). We have some enlightened parents who know this, and their sons are taking advantage of it.

    I think that the only way to change people's perceptions is education. Free bonus classes in hockey or FS (switch disciplines) would be a great way to let the kids try it for fun. Parents can skip if they want, but it's FREE. Maybe they would go just for the heck of it. :) Kind of along the lines of bring a buddy to class day.

    I have a teenage boy competitive FS and LTS coach, so I have learned how much easier for kids to learn on figure skates than hockey skates by observation! Smart parents who listen when a coach tells them to change to FS also see the difference. Those who refuse think they just have un-talented children...

    My son wants to try hockey skates and do double jumps and triples and some of the things you can't do in FS because of the toe pick because some of his skating friends are doing it. Skating should be fun like that. We need more role models like Kurt Browning and Hockey stars that say that they credit early FS for their skills on the ice. :)

    People who think that a piece of equipment will change someone's sexual orientation are just showing their ignorance.

    ReplyDelete
  8. In Australia every skater has to pass through a series of levels before they are allowed to start "specializing" in speed, figure, pair, dance, synchro, or hockey.

    The one 6 y/o boy I know who switched to hockey skates after a year stopped being able to skate/progress so it wouldn't surprise me if the parents put him back in rentals.

    PS: I'm proud to say my 5 y/o started skate school today (his request) - and frankly I'm hoping he favors figure over the rest. Time will tell. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah, but in America, this would immediately run into some idiot claiming it interfered with freedom.

      Delete
    2. I hope it doesn't sound disrespectful to say I find that slightly funny. :-D

      To me the specialized ice sports all require a basic ability to ice skate - which is kind of neutral isn't it? Forward crossovers, turn, stops, etc (for eg) are essential for all. So I'm left slightly puzzled by how "ice skating lessons" coming first could make people feel deprived of choice.

      Our ice hockey teams just tell wannabe players they need to be able to skate reasonably solidly before they bother to learn any hockey related skills. But I guess some smarty will point out we're not known for our legendary hockey players down here. :-)

      Delete
    3. In my experience hockey coaches jealously hoard their players, to the extent that I've had coaches make fun of the kids who go to skating classes, as opposed to hockey classes, despite the fact that they barely teach skating skills in most of the hockey programs around here. The best thing skating programs could do for BOTH sports is to integrate the staffs-- the hockey coaches and skating coaches should both be considered part of the same program and not segregated.

      Delete
    4. You know, Xan, I tried to remain calm about your 2:36 comment, but I can't.

      Calling your readers idiots is the coolest thing you can do. And a very smart thing, too.

      And by the way, it's not about freedom. It's about what parents will or won't pay for. Make it a requirement, lose a lot of customers that already know what they want. Very smart. Oh, I actually have already said that, but you didn't get it. Because you are too smart for this.

      If you can't take any criticism, even with an explanation of why I disagree, why have a blog like this at all?

      Maria

      Delete
    5. Maria, don't take it that way. I really value your input here and don't want to lose you-- I've clearly been spending too much time on political sites and my sarcasm plays poorly here! Of COURSE it's not about freedom-- that was a purely facetious statement, and of COURSE I don't think parents are idiots (and you know that). But there is a strain in the US where imposing any rules, sometimes ones that limit choices and sometimes ones that expand choices, does bring out the kneejerk "interfering with my right to choose/limit" response. In a way, you had this exact response-- that there was no way you would agree with being compelled to try the other sport. And I conceded that you were right, this wasn't a workable solution.

      By no means do I think I'm smarter than my readers (and, again, you know this, because we've had lots of great discussions before). Frankly, I think this is the only place on the web where parents and skaters get to engage in difficult discussions without fear of retribution. I often post difficult topics like this one to help educate *myself*.

      You have a contrary view of this topic, and of my solution; I conceded that my initial thought-- requiring a switch-- was over the top. But the discussion it has engendered has been respectful and productive with a lot of great ideas, and a real view into the difficulties the topic presents.

      Anyway, I hope you're still here, and I want to thank you for always being right there with strong, balanced opinions and for not being afraid to share them. If all figure skating parents were like you, we'd have a stronger sport.

      Delete
  9. Oh how we forget what is most important and what is not. In a world filled with hatred, that we choose to love at all far outweighs in significance who we choose to love. In a world full of ugliness, that we long to create art and beauty matters more than who or what the creator of that art is. In a world where freedom of opinion and expression and choice is under threat everywhere, that there are brave and courageous souls unafraid to make their voices heard says more than whatever it is they want to say in the first place. In a world full of mediocrity, that we strive for perfection and excellence when so little is required by the norm far surpasses the standard of excellence and perfection itself.

    If you have to argue about gay or straight, or masculine or feminine, if you limit others by passing judgment on them, if you choose to narrow your world by looking at it with tunnel vision, if you choose to hear but not listen with an open mind, the world gets filled with a little more hate, it gets filled with a little more ugliness, it is deprived of another voice, and it is deprived of the chance to become something more. And here is the saddest part of all--you will be teaching your children to do the same. They have to be taught how to hate.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Here is one more idea. Your local grocery store should start the following program: if you regularly buy vegetables, you are required to buy at least 5 different kinds of meat, at least one pound of each, before you are allowed to buy any more vegetables. And vice versa. And if you usually buy juice, you are required to try soda. And vice versa. And so on. Just because may be you will like something else.

    I hope you get my point.

    I am sure some people will indeed discover something new. But many will just go to another store.

    Maria

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What's the solution then, for getting boys into figure skating? What's the solution for supporting the artistic boys--the gay ones AND the straight ones? I do see your argument, but I'd like to hear a constructive idea on what you think the culture can do to get boys (or girls) into the sport most appropriate for them, and not turned away because of societal and parental idiocy.

      Delete
    2. Educate people about how figure skating is a sport (e.g. triple/quad jumps, lifts, etc. require strength, speed, proper timing, and so on).

      In particular, getting colleges to recognize figure skating as a sport (and give college scholarships based on figure skating achievements) would help.

      Getting hockey programs to recommend, if not require, basic skills classes, may be at least through Basic 5 or so, would be helpful. Of course, you have to admit that some hockey programs do not recommend basic skills classes precisely because they are afraid to lose some boys. But on the other hand, they future players, those who decide to stay, will have better skating skills. Just do not say it as "hockey players are required to take some figure skating classes", rather just call these classes "basic skills" the way they are supposed to be. May be even move the 1-foot spin to a later level (say, a beginning 1-foot spin in Basic 8 rather than Basic 5), as well as move the waltz jump to FreeSkate? "Basic skills" should contain only the skills that are needed in both figure skating and hockey (and also in speed skating? I am not knowledgeable about that discipline). Otherwise hockey programs look at the list of elements taught in so-called basic skills, and see a whole bunch of figure skating moves.

      Yes, do educate people about how doing figure skating or any art does not make boys gay. And that there is nothing wrong with being a gay, either.

      Maria

      P.S. I guess the difference in our mentalities might be partially due to the difference in rinks. You work at a municipal rink? Then educating the community might be part of your mission. Especially if the program is subsidized. But we go to privately own rinks here. This is their business. And it's bad for the business to impose unusual requirements and upset parents. They will just lose many customers. The customer is always right!

      Delete
  11. Wowza, this post was certainly a can of worms LOL... it presses all the "hot buttons." I agree with the brass cajones comment, and it applies to both sexes (and all orientations).

    Additionally I've sensed that hetero male skaters are under added pressure (especially in their teens) due to the constant presence of a ton of athletic, intelligent, and frequently good-looking female skaters! What a distraction!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I keep telling the boys about the male to female ratio, but I think it just scares them off (talk to a girl!!!!????)

      Delete
  12. I think the bigger issue here is the way that boys and girls are socialized in our culture. Boys are expected to be macho and are told that real men don't cry. Girls are steered away from ''rough'' sports like hockey and are encouraged to be graceful, sensitive, docile, etc. What happens in figure skating (and other sports/activities like gymnastics or music) is just a symptom of the larger problem.

    Sports and hobbies and crafts and activities are not inherently masculine or feminime. Wearing hockey skates doesn't make you manly, and wearing figure skates doesn't make you girly. Artistry and sensitivity do not make you masculine or feminine. They make you human. The problem is that qualities like that are not encouraged in males. That's why men/boys who play music or dance or do gymnastics or other things like that are looked at strangely.

    So change is needed on both a big (cultural level) and a small scale. Parents need to teach their kids how to be human, and how behave in ways and engage in activities that are appropriate for human beings. Everyone should be taught to be both compassionate and confident and determined. Everyone should know how to take care of him/her self, which means that girls should learn how to perform basic house and car maintenance and boys should learn how to cook and sew on buttons.

    As far as this pertains to skating, rinks need to offer programs and opportunities for both girls and guys. They should let people know that it is easier to learn the basics on figure skates (or even make it a requirement that all beginners start out in figure skates) but that learning on one type of skate doesn't mean you can't switch to another later (or even use both if desired. I know a couple figure skaters who play hockey also).

    And there are a lot of maneuvers that can be performed on both types of skates. There's no reason, for instance, that many of the ice dances couldn't be performed on hockey skates. And the first axel was done on speed skates. Figure skates are only necessary when you are doing specialized moves, particularly ones that require the use of the toepick.

    Coaches need to help steer kids (and adults!) toward whatever activity they enjoy and are best suited for, regardless of their gender, and parents need to be open to whatever activity is best suited for their child.

    ReplyDelete
  13. One of the families at the rink has a 14 year boy. His mum was telling me that he loves Aussie Rules football (lots of contact), went to the rink on a school visit and decided to try ice hockey. Did the general learn to skate on rentals and had a blast. Kept going and was offered some second hand figure skates by a mate. Never looked back. Now working hard at ice dancing and pairs. He is a cheeky bugger, adores being around many stunning girls and throwing them around!

    His mum is just delighted to see him happy and active. His dad has tremendous respect (and envy) for his son's ability to interact with girls of the same age. This kid never runs out of dates!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Figure skating could certainly do a lot more to make it welcoming to boys, tho. And so many of the gaffes are just thoughtless in the literal sense - done with no thought.

    Some recent real world examples of less-than-boy-friendly choices by otherwise smart, well intentioned people:

    -synchro costumes in sparkly pink or with frilly sleeves, for a team with one boy

    -the constant use of "she" and "her" and "girls" when people mean "figure skaters" -- coming from the skating director, the synchro team head coach, written on the skating handouts, etc.

    -costume change schedules for skating shows that assume girl levels of quickness (whip one dress off, another on, right over the skates) and don't allow for the fact that changing pants on a male skater means taking off the skates and putting them back on

    -goodie bags at competitions with lip gloss and nail polish

    All little things, and all at basically wonderful, welcoming, friendly rinks - but all the little things add up to a consistent message to boys and their parents. If we want more boys skating, we need to all of us stop the unconscious and semi-conscious assumptions that figure skater = girl, at every level of the sport.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Totally agree with Figure Skating Parent!
      Will try to talk to my club about all this when we have a show/competition next time!
      Maria

      Delete
    2. GREAT list. Reposting it on the Facebook page!

      Delete
  15. Two of my boys are figure skating. The older one has hockey skates and wanted to go fast. He did not want to wear a helmet to basic skills class, so I bought him some great used figure skates just for class.He has never had any interest in playing hockey, only liked the idea of speed. Guess what is gathering dust in my garage, hockey skates! He only wants to wear figure skates. I have already had the talk with them that you are born knowing your sexuality and figure skating isn't going to change that.
    They love doing two foot spins and little waltz jumps, they want to learn more "tricks." My husband thinks what they are doing is great. I skate often with my kids to go over what they are learning in class. We are have a lot of fun with it. Just a side note, I have been competing and the welcome bags have had little gloves in a girl color. Guess they are not expecting any boys or adults to show up.

    ReplyDelete
  16. If a boy is skating 2 hours a day 3 days a week, that's a lot of time to be spending around gay men and little girls to a lot of parents - factoring in that in many cases there aren't many other people to socialize with around the rink, other than the parents or siblings of other skaters. No, being around these people won't make you gay, but they can have an impact on someone's mannerisms. The same way you can acquire an accent if you live in a certain place for an extended period of time, nuances and mannerisms rub off on kids. That's just the way it is. That is why a lot of male skaters - even hetero - come across as slightly effeminate. Lots of parents simply don't want that to happen to their male children.

    Don't confuse homophobia with simply not wanting to subject your child to an atmosphere where they can pick these things up. A boy starting in his teens is less likely to have this happen than one starting at age 8, for example.

    I'm a gay male adult skater. There is only one boy at my rink, and another gay male adult skater. Even many of the male coaches come across as slightly effeminate (gay != effeminate, BTW, but it gives off that vibe). Women and girls are just that.

    When I was younger there were sports that my dad wouldn't let me participate in (including Figure Skating) because he didn't want me "hanging around a bunch of girls." Obviously that didn't work to his favor, but that's the idea a lot of parents have.

    While there are parents that have no issues with their children being homosexual, I doubt any hetero couple has kids hoping they will be. It's just not the way people here think.

    Also, I've been to a lot of places and notice a few things:

    1. The disparity of male to female figure skater and coaches at the lower levels is way out of whack.

    2. Pro Shops tend to stock for females (Supply:Demand) and not nearly as well for male skaters. This makes it harder for parents to just "get it done" for the boys. Hockey is always in stock. Male figure skating pants, tops, jackets, stock boots... Not so much. I've been to pro shops that literally had nothing for a male skater that wasn't in hockey, but was like a Skating Super Mall for females.

    3. The low amount of male skaters also means males are often aggressively recruited by dance and/or pairs coaches, to the point where the kids (who probably just want to go jump and spin without being bothered) start to despise going to the rink. This almost happened to me when I started skating. A dance coach lady just wouldn't let up, and it was quite frustrating trying to be nice and avoid getting snappy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hoping your child is not gay, or going to pick up mannerisms that might increase the chance people might perceive him to be gay ... are such thoughts really not on the homophobic spectrum?? (not haters exactly but certainly not embracing and accepting with equality).

      I have 3 sons and two daughters and genuinely couldn't care less if they were all gay, straight, or indecided. I just hope they find lasting love. I think it'd be unusual for anyone of my generation to feel otherwise - wouldn't it??

      Delete
    2. No. They're people too, and parents just trying to raise their children in the best way *they* see possible.

      "Couldn't care less" isn't the same as "Will put them in an environment that can foster it, when there is a perfectly suitable alternative available."

      I think it goes both ways. Those parents are telling you or your kids how to live their lives. On the other hand, you're trying to tell them how to live theirs and what they should be willing to accept or subject their kids to.

      It's been my experience that the only people unwilling to accept other people's choices in these situations are those that are calling others homophobic for making choices they don't agree with. It's a bit bucket of hypocrisy, and it's why I don't deal with these issues at the rink (I skate with myself, talk to myself, hang out to myself... I have friends out of the rink I don't need the drama), and rabidly avoid them.

      Delete
  17. I'm not sure you'd want to convince a parent who is such a homophobe. Can you imagine the degree of support this kid would be getting?!!! - The figure skating vs. hockey won't be the golden cure for homophobia. I am a woman in a relationship with another woman and we have two kids: A boy who would never want anything to do with figure skates even after being prompted and and "forced" to take a Beta class, repeatedly asked again etc. He does not want to skate with girls. He did hockey for a couple of years, then quit...not his thing. My girl however, is a figure skater at pre-pre level and she too had the choice to do hockey. She is a girly-girl, loves the glam and glitter. She did not look at hockey twice. Our rink supports boys taking figure skating and vice versa. We live in a gay-friendly town in California. I love male and female figure skaters and love hockey, but to some degree things are just biological, girls being drawn to princess dresses and dancing, boys to playing rough. Of course you'll have your outliers or those who like both. Just my 2c! That being said, it would be great to see more female hockey players and more male figure skaters, but fine as is, nothing to fret about.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I really wanted to reply to your 2:38 pm post Xan about how you build the support popularity of men's figure skating.

    Here's my suggestion: Just start calling it extreme skating. And outfit them in something sloppy. Stop rewarding good form - and discourage general fitness. Educate the current skaters to mumble a lot to inspire the next generation. And if it could possibly be arranged - build some lumps and hollows into the ice.

    Of course, I'd never watch it again. But I'd bet more boys would give it a crack.

    ReplyDelete
  19. It's really sad that figure skating suffers from this stereotype for several reasons. 1) yes, it's a great sport for more artistic boys and they may be prevented from enjoying the sport by a homophobe dad. And artistic doesn't = gay which leads right into 2) not all male skaters are gay. 3) figure skating will sharped skating skills for hockey players!! How many times have we heard the story of a figure skater who only started to better their hockey skills? And all of the power skating certified coaches I know are FIGURE SKATING COACHES! and finally... 4) who cares if your kid is gay.

    There is nothing about a freaking toe pick that will determine your child's sexual orientation. Especially in terms of boys, it's proven to be something that is set in stone. Born that way. What would be a shame is if your kid was born that way and was scared to tell you because you were a giant biggot.

    While there are parents that complain about it being 'too gay' to even try putting a toe pick on their 4 year old, I've heard rumours that Skate Canada tried to 'de-gay' figure skating a few years back and some high level skaters got really offended. Who knows about the validity of these claims. But, either way, when I looked at what people were toating in terms of proof in their marketing around that time, I didn't see 'de-gaying' at all. What I saw was skate canada trying to be more inclusive of ALL children. That's it. I think, in general, trying to spend our time LESS offended by EVERYTHING might be a good idea. People are so senstive to everything these days. We should all just live and enjoy ourselves.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Interesting topic. Ive seen this come up many times at our rink. I feel frustrated for a few of our male figure skaters- because it is almost expected that these boys will grow up to be gay. Maybe they will, but I have a feeling they probably wont! I cant tell you how many people have *gasped* when Ive come out to them and said things like "Oh, I had no idea you would never know" seriously folks? It would be so much easier if we were just born with labels. Then the masses wouldnt need to use sports like figure skating verses hockey to determine/pre determine our eventual sexual identity.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It would just been known right at birth--- Is it a girl? a boy? a gay? ;)

      Delete
  21. Really glad I live in an area where boy skaters are supported. One question I didn't ask my child's coaches (both male and female) was their sexual orientation. It's none of my business or my child's business and doesn't effect coaching at all.

    I don't think you need to teach boys to be sloppy, but current music, street costumes, etc may make the artistic side of skating more relevant and make them more eager to invite friends to join or watch them skate.

    Because in the end, kids who skate (hockey or figure) need financial and emotional support from family and friends...just like any other sport.

    My daughter is aging out of free hockey lessons (8 weeks of lessons and the use of equipment). I have asked her several time to try, but each time she says no. For her though it is about time management - why add in hockey when time is so limited and she could be figure skating or doing homework or being social instead.

    And this "artistic-girlie-girl" association with ice skating doesn't fit her. She is tough and strong and has power. She sees herself as an athlete. ~Meg

    ReplyDelete
  22. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  23. This whole conversation is so, so necessary. Thank you for starting it, Xan. I am the mother of a 12 year old boy figure skater who loves the sport with a passion. He gets such a kick out of the challenge I could barely get him to take a day off to rest an injury this week. (Thankfully coach enforces healthy rest) He is also the ONLY boy currently skating on club ice. Our club is a very warm and accepting place, but it is still full of all those subtle hints that this is a girl's sport... (whomever it was who posted about the lip gloss in the freebie bags at competitions, thank you!).

    When he's not living in a girl's world, getting (albeit lovingly) teased and texted and glitter bombed, he's fighting to have what he loves to do so much accepted by the other boys.. and most of all, by his own dad. Dad, after many years, has come around. In the end, he just wants to see his boy happy. And I certainly can understand dad's fear that he was investing (hugely) in an activity that would "just get his son picked on." Luckily, the kid is a pretty confident crusader for his thing. The boys at school generally don't think it is cool, but know better than to say it now. And he even has a few true friends who have come to competitions and exhibitions to cheer him on. But it hasn't been easy.

    So our experience has taught me two things:

    1) Any boy who sticks with this sport has got to be a warrior for it. Great, if you happen to be an outgoing child who enjoys crusading for social justice. Great, if you love it right away enough to fight for it. But how many boys never get the chance to fall for it because the social challenge is too overwhelming? How do we make it possible for boys to have a fun, unconflicted introduction to figure skates? How do we give them a chance to fall for it enough to go for it... or, honestly, just plain enjoy it? We might not be able to change everybody's prejudices in a day, but I definitely agree that making exposure to BOTH types of blades an essential part of learning to skate would go a long way in giving the little guys a shot at it. As learn to skate instructors we could really make a difference here. Imagine if a toe-pick were as normal as a helmet?

    2)Scholarships, scholarships, scholarships! It's hard enough convincing parents that it's ok if their boy loves to figure skate. To ask them to invest in something they fear will make their son a bullying target is even harder. This strategy has worked well for a number of ballet schools where there is significant male enrollment (a discipline where partners for girls eventually become essential). When the funding is there, parents of boys ARE more likely to say, "what the heck, let him try it if he really wants to." I know few clubs have the funds to subsidize ice time for boys, or the volunteer power to lobby benefactors. And I know that parents of girls struggle to fund this absurdly expensive sport just as much as anyone ... but at the same time... minority scholarships do work.

    ... just some thoughts

    ReplyDelete
  24. This great comment is why I always think my readers could write this blog better than me. Thanks for some wonderful insights.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Inline Skating is a young sport but one that has developed extremely quickly since its origin. It now encompasses inline speed skating, inline hockey, inline ramp and vertical skating .
    Ice Hockey Equipment & Ice Hockey Skates

    ReplyDelete
  26. Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love learning more on this topic. If possible, as you gain expertise, would you mind updating your blog with more information? It is extremely helpful for me.

    basketball fails in nba & basketball slam dunks

    ReplyDelete