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My Boy Can Dance – ON BOYS Parenting Podcast

At age 4, Sassy Harvey’s son was told that if he dances, he must be a girl. Or gay.

Not surprisingly, he quit dance class soon after that.

It’s 2019. Girls, we know can become astronauts and scientists and ministers and presidents. But boys who dance are STILL routinely perceived as gay and effeminate. In fact, according to a recent study of male ballet dancers:

93% of boys involved in ballet report “teasing and name calling”

68% experience “verbal or physical harassment”

11% were victims of physical harm – at the hands of people who targeted them because they study dance

Shortly after her son quit formal dance classes, Sassy launched MY BOY CAN, an organization that would like to see a social shift in attitudes towards boys and challenges the constraints placed on boys. Often, Sassy says, “when a boy expresses interest that in things that are perceived as ‘for girls,’ they are told they shouldn’t or can’t.”

MY BOY CAN’s first campaign was #MyBoyCanDance. Sassy reached out to dance studios and others in Portsmouth, England (her home base) and encouraged people to share photos of boys and men dancing, with the hashtag #MyBoyCanDance. Thanks to the power of the Internet, “it went crazy,” Sassy said. “It’s now worldwide.”

Of course, there’s much work yet to be done. But as Sassy explains, “It all starts with us stopping the ‘My boy won’t, can’t, shouldn’t because he is a boy’ and starting instead to say, ‘My Boy Can.'”

Top L: Sassy Harvey. Top R: Janet Allison. Bottom: Jennifer Fink In this episode, Jen, Janet & Sassy discuss:

The pressure boys face to conform to gender stereotypes

How parents can support boys (and each other) as they challenge stereotypes

The power of community (working together, parents of boys have more power than we do individually)

How boy parents can create societal change

How to help boys reframe public perceptions of dance

How dance instructors and studios can create boy-friendly dance classes

The importance (and value) of empowering boys to pursue their interests

What to do if your boy’s dad is the one discouraging dance (or any other activity)

Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode: My Boy Can — Sassy’s Facebook community

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Natalia Osipova, Carlos Acosta and Peter Wright in rehearsals for Giselle