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A 13-year-old girl is a ‘lesbian’ if she plays football? Some things don’t change

Taunts like this have been around for decades – but this playground name-calling reflects how women’s sports are treated

When I was in school a few decades ago, it was standard to be called a lesbian if you so much as kicked a football back to a boy in the playground. This was obviously after the ball had been aimed at one’s (lesbo) head in the kind of terrifying gesture that we were taught, as girls, to laugh off – or, worse, take as a compliment. (See also: the pinging of bra straps.) Well, here we are in 2018, which in many ways is just an endless gif of a football whacking your outraged teenage head (which – ha! – in my case turned out to be bisexual), and a 13-year-old girl is being called a lesbian … for playing football. Some things, such as the nature and content of homophobic taunts, don’t change.

Darcie, from Monmouthshire in Wales, has reportedly been told by PE teachers that she cannot play football as a recommended sport at school. Her peers “have criticised me a lot by saying I’m a man or a lesbian”, she says. The other children’s parents are reportedly no better, apparently shouting “don’t let a girl tackle you” during matches. Gender stereotyping never looked so unoriginal.

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