Furious mum says son was asked to undress for PE ‘in front of class and teacher’
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A furious mum has called for schools to update their ‘outdated policies’ after her son was told to undress for PE in front of his class and teacher.
Gillian Lamarra, from Glasgow, was outraged when her seven-year-old son, Dylan, who attends Craigton Primary School, came home upset and anxious after being asked to strip to his pants in order change into his shorts.
She told the Daily Record: "Dylan has only been in Primary 3 for a week or so.
“He didn't feel comfortable changing in front of his teacher, a man he had only known for a few days, and the rest of his class.
"He will be eight soon and is starting to become aware of his body and with that, his right to privacy.
"To suggest that children should just be okay about stripping to their pants in a class of 20 plus kids and their teacher is ridiculous and goes against many other things that we teach our kids."
Although Gillian is pleased Dylan was brave enough to refuse doing something that made him feel uncomfortable, she worries that other children might not feel as comfortable speaking out.
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"I always tell Dylan that if he is uncomfortable with something then to speak up and I will back him.
"But some kids don’t have the confidence and if Dylan feels that way then it's likely that other kids do too.
"What worries me more is that some kids don’t feel uncomfortable because it’s drummed into them that this is normal."
Although the Glasgow mum believes Craigton is a ‘great primary school’ and is pleased that Dylan’s teachers accepted his choice, she’s unhappy that kids aren’t offered the option of privacy and that the rule of thumb is that all pupils get changed in the same room.
She contacted the school to try to find a solution, but when she asked if Dylan could use a toilet cubicle to change, she claims the headteacher said there aren’t enough cubicles to accommodate every child.
Instead, Gillian says the school advised that children were welcome to wear their PE kit to school on designated days.
Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, pupils would bring in PE clothing and get changed before their gym lesson, but during the pandemic, schools have allowed children to wear their kit on gym days in order to avoid having to carry extra clothing items with them.
However, Gillian fears that the rules will revert back again once restrictions are lifted, and children will be forced to change in front of classmates and teachers again.
She said: "I fear that after covid the procedures will just go back to how they were before and leave some children feeling self-conscious, upset and embarrassed again, when it could all be avoided."
In a TikTok video she made, Gillian was amazed to receive hundreds of comments and private messages from parents who agreed with her stance, or had no idea that children were getting changed in a room full of people.
She said: “Many parents didn’t realise the kids change together and many whose children are currently going to school in their gym kits on PE day were not aware that this is temporary because of covid and not because it’s in the kids' best interest to be dressed ready for class."
A Glasgow City Council spokeswoman said: “Not all infants begin school with the same set of skills and in some cases may need some additional help from a teacher in a number of situations and this includes changing for PE.
“Throughout last year, children came to school wearing PE kit on their gym days. Some schools have continued this practice and this school are happy to continue this, if parents wish.
“We are aware of Ms Lamarra’s query, and we are confident that this was resolved quickly after it was raised.”
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