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to call this is sex discrimination at our local Children's Centre?

(109 Posts)
learnasyougo Sat 30-Nov-13 16:25:24

Our local children's centre runs weekly 'Stay and Play' drop in sessions on a weekday morning. My husband (SAHD) often goes to these with our toddler son. It's mostly mums, but there is another father who goes occasionally, too.

Being a weekday morning I can never go (to spend time with DS and see him interact with other children), as I work full time.

Once a month, on a Saturday morning, the same centre runs a 'Dads' Stay and Play' drop-in, so working fathers can a) have the same sort of experience with their children and b) have somewhere to go to give SAHM a break, presumably. I know not all fathers have Saturdays free, but presumably a shift-working father would be able to make the weekly one from time to time, at least.

So my husband asked when the next one would be because his wife (me) would like to go.

"Oh no. It's men only" was the reply. He said his wife works full time, though "yes, a few people have complained about that" but it was left at that.

This is sex discrimination, right? I qualify in every other way, except for the Y chromosome. I can understand a men-only space if this were some sort of support group or talking therapy and having women about might inhibit men.

I'm really annoyed by it. I'm wondering whether they'd actually turn me away if I turned up. I would love to see him in a social environment, interacting with other children and playing with other sorts of toys we don't have at home, and give DH a break. I was annoyed enough at everything on a Saturday always being a 'dads' whatever, yet the regular, normal event is never described as a 'mums' event - a reverse of the 'men as default' so prevalent elsewhere in society.

So, should I just turn up anyway? Next one isn't until next month.

TheSmallClanger Sat 30-Nov-13 16:27:57

Write a complaint letter. Use that post as a template. YANBU.

complexnumber Sat 30-Nov-13 16:35:31

I really doubt if they would turn you away if you appeared at the door and explained why you were there.

Don't make a fuss until you have proper reason to.

Don't write a letter of complaint, people are busy enough as it is.

SadOldGit Sat 30-Nov-13 16:35:37

I dont work in CC so may be wrong (often am) but think that the idea of the Fathers groups was to get more dads involved and may be a funding issue (childrens centres are under threat and a lot of funding is reliant on getting specific groups to attend)

pianodoodle Sat 30-Nov-13 16:38:03

I'd turn up anyway and see what happens.

I don't think you're being unreasonable.

TattyDevine Sat 30-Nov-13 16:41:21

Just look innocent and say "But I am a man"...

If they look at you quizzically, unzip your jeans and make out you are about to flop it out...



OldLadyKnowsNothing Sat 30-Nov-13 16:44:27

I think SadOldGit has it, it'll be a funding issue, probably encouraging men who don't have much time with their dc. No different to women-only events in eg swimming pools.

TheCrackFox Sat 30-Nov-13 16:47:53

DH works 95% of Saturday's so it wouldn't suit a lot of dads either.

CailinDana Sat 30-Nov-13 16:51:31

A woman from my local children's centre came to the playgroup I help to run wondering what makes 30+ families come to us twice a week every week when they're lucky to get 10 through the door. I told it's for reasons like this - inflexible ridiculous policies that confuse and irritate people. The vast majority of CC staff are great but CCs are under the control of both the NHS and OFSTED, two of the most bureaucratic, petty-minded unreasonable organisations ever to exist. Don't bother complaining they can't actually change anything. Some of the policies they have to follow are so ridiculous I thought they were just myths until the CC worker confirmed they actually existed.

lagoonhaze Sat 30-Nov-13 16:52:09

been thinking same today!

Birdsgottafly Sat 30-Nov-13 16:56:08

CC's now have to target their provision to the most "in need" groups.

It was found that in general, in some areas Working Class (you get the drift) men and particularly under 25's didn't play with their young children. The value of play and the bonding that took place during this was undervalued.

Likewise many males didn't like attending groups with other Mums, in some cases they said that they were undermined.

This research all took place just before the "dad's Count/Father's Matter" type campaigns.

There was and is a need, it us a shame that some Venues cannot offer Working Parents sessions, but that is a funding issue.

I'm sure that if you didn't have a session available you would still play with your child, sadly that isn't the case with done Dads.

Some if the CC will allow a Make Secondary Carer to attend.

There are planned activities and days out attached to this.

There was a real need to get the idea that young children are Women's Work out of peoples heads, in some areas.

There was also a need for a list cost or free appropriate activity for this all to happen.

BodaciousTatas Sat 30-Nov-13 16:57:35

The CC I work in have one dads stay and play per month and one Family Saturday stay and play per month, this was after working mums complained.

Maybe you could suggest it, we had plenty of staff to do this though and I know not all cc's are as lucky.

Birdsgottafly Sat 30-Nov-13 17:00:13


They are under the jurisdiction of Children and Family Services, ours changed in 2011.

So the provision had to fall into the planning for Families and Young People under ECM and OFSTEAD, Early Years Strategy, to name some, via the LA.

Grennie Sat 30-Nov-13 17:01:47

I think it is fine for them to have a fathers only session. But they should have a weekend session for mothers too. Also some mothers may want a mothers only session?

manchestermummy Sat 30-Nov-13 17:02:05

The CC I used to attend (until someone decided my postcode precluded me) had these. Plus sessions for grandparents. And young mothers.

Not really the same issue but our local pool doesn't allow pre-schoolers weekend or early evening swimming lessons as "most mum are available to take them during the week". When the receptionist told me that I pointed out that it wasn't 1953 and put down the phone. Fortunately another pool nearby does not have this ludicrous policy in place.

Bubbles1066 Sat 30-Nov-13 17:02:46

I think they probably have to provide men only groups. Like my local CC has 2 toddler groups, one anyone can go to and one you have to apply to go to (and will only be accepted if you live on the local council estate). They also have a young parent's group and a Dad's group. So actually, as a SAHM there is only one of the 4 groups that I'm allowed to go to so it's not just working mums that are excluded sometimes. Don't turn up and don't complain, they have to meet their criteria and target certain groups even if it excludes some people.
How about doing swimming lessons or classes like Baby Ballet, Jo Jingles etc (whatever you have locally) instead on a Saturday?

Grennie Sat 30-Nov-13 17:03:29

You do know if you said you were a transman FtoM, they would have to let you attend?

moldingsunbeams Sat 30-Nov-13 17:04:46

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Rinoachicken Sat 30-Nov-13 17:05:54

OP im in exactly the same situation as you and it really annoys me also.

wonderstuff Sat 30-Nov-13 17:16:34

Just crazy! molding I am angry on your behalf.

worridmum Sat 30-Nov-13 17:18:39

Am sorry but why can women have women only events / areas and thats perfectly ok (a soft play area and swiming pool banned all males over the age of 4) no one cared when a father complained saying it was discimatory as apprently you can discrimate againt men with immpunity.

but as soon as a male only group was introducted into the same area people were up in arms about sex discrimation.

I think its ok to have single gender events if their is a similer option for the left out gender

wonderstuff Sat 30-Nov-13 17:21:13

Meant to add although we have a CC they don't seem to do an awful lot relevant to me. In my village it's the church that run the most popular toddler groups, they are friendly enough, good at identifying new people and you get a cuppa and a biscuit. They started a dad's group and dads get a bacon buttie and newspapers. I get that they feel dads need extra incentive, but seems unfair.

wonderstuff Sat 30-Nov-13 17:22:59

Are there women's only things? I've never come across a group that excludes men.

OddBoots Sat 30-Nov-13 17:26:05

There is nothing wrong with single gender events in the right context, it is the assumption that mums are around in the week and dads are around at the weekend that is discrimination.

If they had women only (or even mixed) events at the weekend too then having a dad group at the weekend wouldn't be a problem. If they did 9am-10.30am dads, 10.30am -12midday mixed then maybe the dads would feel able to hang around a bit longer and mix with a wider range of parents so it would help all.

worridmum Sat 30-Nov-13 17:29:08

come to leicester and alot of places in the midlands there is alot of this discrimatory shit but because its agaisnt men it doesnt get air time / cared about.

it all smells of hpyoicatcy as I had a feminist friend who campained to have a male only theropy session and social group abolished but activitly campaigned for her female only club to remain female only and she had a massive arguement as i called her out on her hypocitacy and basically said men cant be discrimated because they had a penis....

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