When Good Morning America’s Lara Spencer took a cheap shot at Britain’s young Prince George for his interest in dance class, it sparked outrage across social and traditional media. Thankfully, the morning show host had the good sense to apologize for the insensitive and harmful remarks. Fox News mocked the apology claiming that “boys who wear tights will be harrassed.” In response, a flash group of more than 300 dancers organized in New York’s Times Square outside the studio to clap back at the media personality’s bullying remarks and show young viewers that men dance too.
But is the damage to children by reinforcing toxic gender stereotypes reversible with on-air apologies and flash dances?
On Facebook, one parent (likely one of many) posted about how the incident prompted her 14-year-old son, who is a talented and devoted dancer, to ask if he could quit dance. According to a study from Wayne State University professor Doug Risner, 11% of boys in ballet experienced physical harm because of their dancing, and 93% experienced “teasing and name calling.” Risner estimates that three-in-four boys in ballet quit before their sixteenth birthday because of the harassment they face to confirm to narrow conceptions of masculinity.
What a loss for these boys and young men. Dance improves physical fitness, flexibility, balance, and coordination while boosting confidence, encouraging self-expression, nurtures motivation, and enhances focus and concentration. It’s no wonder that dance is a favorite second sport of many NFL players.
Take Action! Show your support to the #boysdancetoo movement by using the hashtag, and sign the change.org petition to GMA to encourage the show to list the benefits of dance to boys and men.