It's not just about inclusivity — here are six other benefits to boys and girls playing.
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Have you ever walked past a playground and seen groups of girls playing separately from groups of boys?

Sure, really young kids may not be very discerning in their choice of play partners, but once kids become aware of their gender, they often silo off into their respective gendered groups. Girls may start gathering in a group that plays with dolls or puzzles, while boys may prefer to get dirty and play fight.

Photo via Pixabay.


And while there's nothing wrong with some separation, if it becomes the norm, over time it could end up working against kids as they come into their teen years. If they aren't encouraged to play with kids of the opposite sex, they might eventually feel like they aren't meant to, or that they aren't welcome in those groups.

Even though the 'boys only' clubhouse from "The Little Rascals" might sound like an extreme example, it's not a far cry from what women still experience in certain professions that remain more male-dominated — these women end up feeling like they aren't welcome.

Photo by Jelleke Vanooteghem/Unsplash

Thankfully, however, more and more youth programs are encouraging boys and girls to play together in order to help break down the barrier before it develops.

And this style of play isn't just helping kids feel included. There are many other benefits to inclusivity. Here are 6 of them:

1. It can help kids work together more effectively later in life.

Since boys and girls' brains and bodies are somewhat different, how they interact with the world also tends to diverge. But, if they're allowed to play together from an early age, they'll learn to adapt to each other's styles of interacting, which should help them communicate better as adults.

Photo by Mi Pham/Unsplash.

Dr. Gail Saltz, Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the NY Presbyterian Hospital Weill-Cornell School of medicine and the author of Amazing You, elaborates:

"Children learn from being exposed to new ideas. They learn coping skills from being exposed to and having to manage compromising with others who play differently, they learn tools regarding collaboration, disagreement, compromise, resolving conflict, delayed gratification and frustration tolerance."

2. When boys play with girls, they may be more well-behaved

Both a 2001 study of preschoolers and a 2011 study of adolescents found that regular interaction between the sexes both during and after school leads to an overall decrease in aggression in boys. So if you have a boy who's prone to outbursts, it might be helpful to set up some playdates with girls in his class.

3. Making all toys fair game helps build confidence in both genders.

Photo by Unsplash/Sandy Millar.

If there's no separation between toys and activities, both boys and girls will feel more confident to explore the things they're drawn to, regardless of the gender it might've originally been associated with.

"By allowing boys and girls to play together with a variety of toys, including trucks, cars, play dough, musical instruments, dolls, puppets, and legos, you’re teaching that both genders are equal and okay," explains Katie Ziskind, a licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT), in an email. "Puppets and music are great gender neutral toys for expressive and creative play. "

4. Inclusivity can help promote creative thinking.

Photo via Pixabay.

Piggy-backing on that idea from the first point above, when boys and girls get comfortable interacting with each other, they learn to be more accepting and sensitive to behaviors that are a bit different from their own. They also pick up new ways of relating, thinking and feeling, which can ultimately help them develop into more well-rounded people.

"Some of our most innovative thinking comes from exploring the area of overlap in thinking between two disparate minds," notes Dr. Saltz.

5. Parents can personally benefit too.

Kids certainly learn behaviors from their parents, but it goes both ways. If kids start being more accepting and positive towards the opposite sex, it may encourage their parents to be more mindful about their behavior as well.

This is also an important lesson for parents who want to show their kids why it's important to be accepting of everyone. When you show your kids what that looks like, they'll be more inclined to follow suit.

6. It helps emphasize the importance of the individual.

Photo via Pixabay.

When kids are free to play any way they want with whomever they want, it helps them feel less inhibited by stereotypes that still exist in the world around them. It also encourages them to express who they are or want to be, and embrace all their eccentricities rather than shy away from them.

Encouraging kids to try different things, even if they're the only girl or boy doing it, will ultimately help them find their way in life, and realize that there's nothing wrong with taking the road less traveled. In fact, they'll probably better off for it.

All this is not to say that boys and girls should never play separately. However, since that's more often the default, it's important to realize the benefits of a neutral play zone, too.

"Playing together as children teaches females that they can be strong, physically active, and have a career one day while being a leader in the workplace," writes Ziskind. "Men are taught that it’s okay to cry, that being emotional is a sign of deeper strength and wisdom, and to nurture themselves."

There are so many wonderful things about us that can help us be happier and more comfortable in our own skin. Knowing that, it only makes sense to inspire inclusivity in kids from the moment they start to play with others.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."

This article originally appeared on 12.02.19


Just imagine being an 11-year-old boy who's been shuffled through the foster care system. No forever home. No forever family. No idea where you'll be living or who will take care of you in the near future.

Then, a loving couple takes you under their care and chooses to love you forever.

What could one be more thankful for?

That's why when a fifth grader at Deerfield Elementary School in Cedar Hills, Utah was asked by his substitute teacher what he's thankful for this Thanksgiving, he said finally being adopted by his two dads.

via OD Action / Twitter

To the child's shock, the teacher replied, "that's nothing to be thankful for," and then went on a rant in front of 30 students saying that "two men living together is a sin" and "homosexuality is wrong."

While the boy sat there embarrassed, three girls in the class stood up for him by walking out of the room to tell the principal. Shortly after, the substitute was then escorted out of the building.

While on her way out she scolded the boy, saying it was his fault she was removed.

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One of the boy's parents-to-be is Louis van Amstel, is a former dancer on ABC's "Dancing with the Stars." "It's absolutely ridiculous and horrible what she did," he told The Salt Lake Tribune. "We were livid. It's 2019 and this is a public school."

The boy told his parents-to-be he didn't speak up in the classroom because their final adoption hearing is December 19 and he didn't want to do anything that would interfere.

He had already been through two failed adoptions and didn't want it to happen again.

via Loren Javier / Flickr

A spokesperson for the Alpine School District didn't go into detail about the situation but praised the students who spoke out.

"Fellow students saw a need, and they were able to offer support," David Stephenson said. "It's awesome what happened as far as those girls coming forward."

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He also said that "appropriate action has been taken" with the substitute teacher.

"We are concerned about any reports of inappropriate behavior and take these matters very seriously," Kelly Services, the school the contracts out substitute teachers for the district, said in a statement. "We conduct business based on the highest standards of integrity, quality, and professional excellence. We're looking into this situation."

After the incident made the news, the soon-to-be adoptive parents' home was covered in paper hearts that said, "We love you" and "We support you."

Religion is supposed to make us better people.

But what have here is clearly a situation where a woman's judgement about what is good and right was clouded by bigoted dogma. She was more bothered by the idea of two men loving each other than the act of pure love they committed when choosing to adopt a child.