Molly Thompson, Elise Weber, Ansley Gonzalez, Benjamin Barack, Brigid Averill-Snell
More than half of the members of their group had faced some type of discrimination. Ansley Gonzalez has been told that girls are weak. Brigid Averill-Snell has been told girls don’t know how to kick. Molly Thompson has been ignored when she has asked to join a game on the playground.
All five students were interested in researching equal rights for their International Baccalaureate (IB) end-of-year project, but once they decided to focus on gender inequality in sports, they realized how much the issue affects girls. Through their research, they learned that as they grow older many girls start doubting their abilities and strength in sports, which may prevent them from trying new sports or cause them to stop participating altogether.
To help solve the problem in Hillsborough County, they asked Superintendent Jeff Eakins to support the establishment of gender-neutral sports teams in the county’s elementary schools. They also raised awareness of the problem by giving information to Tampa’s La Gaceta newspaper, which resulted in a published article, and through a 45-second video they wrote, produced, sang and acted in, and edited. The mash-up parody of the Broadway musicals “Hamilton” and “Wicked” was shown to students at their school, MacFarlane Park Magnet School for International Studies, and is available to other schools through the district’s network.
“Sports are a way to bring people together,” said Ansley. “Women should be a part of that.”
The whole group agreed with Benjamin’s statement that they learned a lot about gender equality as well as how to communicate and work as a team – valuable skills in life on and off the playing field.