Boys Wear Skirts in Uniform Protest

A school in Exeter who has the school uniform rule that male pupils must wear trousers and female pupils can wear trousers or tartan skirts has been on the receiving end of a protest by about 30 male students who turned up to school wearing skirts.

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A mum of a male students at the school, Claire Reeves, said she’d asked the school about her son being able to wear shorts, but had not got anywhere.

“I feel extremely proud of them all for standing up for their rights. People are always talking about equal right for males and females and school uniform shouldn’t be any different”, she said.

The pupils from ISCA Academy in Exeter had asked permission to change their uniform and allow shorts because of the hot weather. One of the boys who took part in the protest said: “We’re not allowed to wear shorts, and I’m not sitting in trousers all day, it’s a bit hot.” The boys who are protesting are hoping that another 100 or so male students will join in the protest and wear skirts on Friday too.

Battle of the Sexes

Today in most tennis tournaments, women earn 20% less than men. Equal pay is regularly opposed by male players and people in the tennis industry, most recently by a former US tennis centre CEO Raymond Moore, who said female tennis players “ride on the coattails of the men,” and Novak Djokovic, who said men deserve higher prize money because their matches are more popular.

In 1973, Billie Jean King the women’s tennis number 1 took on Bobby Riggs a former men’s number 1 and won. Her victory changed women’s tennis considerably. Forty years later there might not be complete equality but without Billie Jean King’s tennis match called the Battle of the Sexes, things might be a whole lot worse.

battle of the sexes

A new film out this year called Battle of the Sexes will help younger tennis fans and the wider public understand how important that tennis match in 1973 was. Starring Emma Stone and Steve Carell the trailer has just been released and people are saying it might end up being an Oscar contender.

Battle film pic

ITV2’s Love Island discusses women’s equality

On Thursday’s Love Island broadcast on ITV2 show couple Jonny and Camilla ended up talking about feminism. Jonny claimed that he’s all for “equality” but that “real feminists” don’t want that, they want thing to “slope towards them”. Camilla countered with “I don’t think it’s that, it’s that there’s been several generations that have been preferential towards men, and therefore to redress the balance there has to be in some way an active movement towards equality.” By the end of the conversation Camilla was in tears…

What is a feminist? The Oxford English Dictionary defines ‘a feminist’  as ‘An advocate or supporter of the rights and equality of women’. The term ‘feminist’ however has always been contentious. This is partly because it implies militancy and an ‘anti-men’ stance.

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All of this talk of feminism leads me to a great new song by Ray BLK called Doing Me which  is an anthem for when you’re feeling yourself and not taking any one’s opinion on board. With great lyrics like “My dressing is expression so don’t judge me by my clothes,”  it will encourage you to be yourself and not worry about what others think. Ray Blk explains, “It’s about being yourself no matter what and not caring about judgement. People are going to judge you whether you do bad or good so you have to do you regardless!”

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Parliament is more Diverse

While a lot of talk after Britain’s General Election last week has been on the Conservatives special friendship with the DUP, or the Labour Party making big increases in the number of MPs they have in Parliament, there has also been some quiet appreciation of how diverse Parliament is finally becoming.

  • 45 out of the 650 MPs openly define themselves as being LGBT
  • In 2015 there were 41 MPs from ethnic minorities and now there are 52
  • In 2015 there were 191 female MPs and now there are 208 women MPs who’ll sit in the House of Commons
  • There are no specific figures on MPs with disability
  • In 2015 only 43% of MPs were educated in the comprehensive system (i.e. not private and not selective) but that has increased in 2017 to 51% (this is compared to 88% of the UK population who received comprehensive education!)
  • Notable firsts are the first female Sikh MP, a blind MP and an MP with a richly diverse international heritage

 

Why we need to know the difference between Shia and Sunni Muslims for a GCSE

A few weeks back you heard the President of the USA criticise Iran for supporting terrorism, whilst he was standing in Saudi Arabia.

Then this week after a terrorist attack carried out by Islamic State killed 17 innocent civilians in Iran, President Trump’s sent both his condolences: “We grieve and pray for the innocent victims of the terrorist attacks in Iran, and for the Iranian people, who are going through such challenging times,” and these additional comments: “We underscore that states that sponsor terrorism risk falling victim to the evil they promote.” You can imagine how Iran felt about this latter comment.

The Iranian foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, tweeted: “Repugnant WH (White House) statement … as Iranians counter terror backed by US clients.”

This is where what we learn in GCSE Religious Studies comes in handy in making sense of all this. It is so important that when you read about world politics you are aware of the difference between Sunni and Shia Islam.  The Sunni jihadis of Isis (Islamic State) consider Shia Iran to be apostates (a defection or revolt against the true Islam), and Iran is deeply involved in fighting the group in both Syria and Iraq. To make things trickier for Iran they have a sizeable Sunni population along their restive borders with Iraq and Pakistan, and it is from here that Isis is hoping to recruit. Understanding the Syrian Civil War also needs you to know about Sunni and Shia Muslims, as Newsround tried to explain.

sunni and shia

Is Free Will an illusion?

Standing right at the start of their GCSE Religious Studies our Year 9 students are looking at the Theme of Crime and Punishment, pondering whether evil is a psychological phenomena, an impersonal force or personal being such as the Devil. They will stumble upon Free Will pretty soon just like the Year 8 students studying Suffering and Evil this half-term who’ve already discussed the Inconsistent Triad in their first lesson:

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And will certainly debate Free Will when they get to Original Sin and the Story of Job in Christianity:

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A Guardian podcast lasting a concise 30 minutes debates whether Free Will is actually an illusion and whether it is ever possible to act outside the bounds of our environment, our upbringing, and our genetic makeup.

The journal Scientific Reports shows that human caused climate change is affecting extreme weather

The 2016 AQA Religion and Life paper asked what problems were caused by climate change and today’s article in the Guardian underlines the way that weather patterns such as heatwaves, droughts and floods across the world had the fingerprint of climate change on them.

Large scale wind patterns are largely driven by the temperature difference between the poles and the tropics. But global warming is altering this difference because the Arctic is heating up faster than lower latitudes and because land areas are heating up faster than the oceans.

“It is not just a problem of nature conservation or polar bears, it is about a threat to human society that comes from these rapid changes,” he said. “This is because it hits us with increasing extreme events in the highly populated centres in the mid-latitudes. It also affects us through sea level rise, which is hitting shores globally. So these changes that are going on in the Arctic should concern everyone.”

Extreme-Weather-and-Climate-Change-Infographic

Linking climate change to extreme weather in a Religious Studies exam is a canny move, as you can then refer to its impact on people. Christians might be concerned as we’re born in God’s image; that the Parable of the Good Samaritan showed to Love thy Neighbour; that the Golden Rule wants us to do unto others as we would have them do to you; and that we should protect life as all life is sacred and holy (sanctity of life). Buddhists might be worried too about the extreme weather’s impact on people because the first precept is to not harm; they are concerned about metta (kindness); as well as compassion to others.

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