Schools told off for cheerleader rules

25th April 2003 at 01:00
SCHOOLS that have clamped down on cheerleaders' displays have been criticised by researchers for removing a safe way for girls to experience their sexual power.

The American Educational Research Association's annual conference in Chicago heard that schools should use cheerleading as a way to get girls to think about female sexuality.

Schools across the United States have issued new rules which discourage displays where girls show off or behave in an explicitly sexual way.

Pamela Bettis, of Idaho University, and Natalie Guice Adams, of Alabama University, surveyed around 60 cheerleaders.

There are 3.3 million cheerleaders at US middle and secondary schools.

Cheerleading's "girl-next-door" sporty image makes it acceptable to schools and parents. Girls who cheer "occupy positions of power, prestige, and privilege," the researchers say. But they also point to the sexual nature of this supposedly wholesome activity.

However, girls are well aware of the potential power of their high kicks, Bettis and Adams say.

One girl in cheerleader preparation class said: "Girls want to be cheerleaders because they believe that guys will like them more - they will see them as cute women in short skirts."

Instead of ignoring the sexual dimension, teachers could put it to good use, and get girls to think critically about female sexuality and identity.

"Cheerleading could provide a curricular space for girls to explore their emerging sexuality and female identity if school personnel formally acknowledged the erotic facets," say the researchers.

For copies of "Cheerleading and eroticism in school" email nadams@bamaed.ua.edu

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number

Comments

The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now