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Petition: Don’t Ban Girls From STEM Night At Science Center

A petition accuses a PTA event of excluding girls from a night of science, technology, engineering and math experiments.

An Orlando elementary school event promoting STEM education is being criticized for excluding girls.

The Audubon Park PTA is planning a ‘mother and son night of fun’ at the Orlando Science Center next week, with experiments in science, technology, engineering and math. Web developer Helena Zubkow started a Change.org petition, asking the school to invite girls to the event too.

“It’s fantastic that they’re offering this to students because it’s great to get kids involved in STEM young,” Zubkow said. “But it’s harmful not to involve all of the kids. It reinforces that gender bias message.”

She said it’s great the PTA is promoting science education, but she wants it to be more inclusive. “I was a preschool teacher for years, so education is very important to me,” Zubkow said. “And also I’m a woman in tech, and I see the disparity. So it is very personal to me when I see girls being discouraged from taking part.”

The PTA Executive board wrote in a statement there will be a science night for all students next February.

“Girls were not excluded from this event,” the statement reads. “This is a social event intended to fulfill the request from our school community for a mother figure/son event. Girls would not be prohibited from attending the event if so desired.”

Orange County Public Schools said in a statement it does not direct the activities of PTAs. OCPS said girls will not be prohibited from attending the Audubon Park PTA event.

Zubkow said the science center contacted her to say it “supports STEM learning for all and will propose a family fun night option as well.”

 

See below for the full response from the PTA:

The following is a statement that Audubon Park PTA has released today. We will also send you the response from Orange County Public Schools shortly.

The purpose of this letter is to address concerns that have been raised in our community about an upcoming PTA event. We appreciate feedback and we are always glad to learn of others who share our passion for doing good for our children’s school.

Last year we had an overwhelmingly positive response to our Sweetheart (Father figure/daughter) dance. There has never been an event to create as much participation and excitement at our school. It was obvious to us that we needed to offer it again this year. We also learned from much feedback after that event that our community was eager for us to also offer an event for boys to attend with their mothers or special female figures (i.e. aunts, grandmothers, etc.). So, we sent a survey to the entire school, and we used the information we received in planning our events.

The school offers a quarterly STEM day during regular school hours and a STEM club after school every other week. In addition, the school will host a science night for all students on February 19, 2016.

To clarify points that you may have heard or read in the media:

– This is a PTA sponsored event and it therefore does not fall under the guidelines of the Title IX of the federal Education Amendments of 1972.

– Girls were not excluded from this event. This is a social event intended to fulfill the request from our school community for a mother figure/son event. Girls would not be prohibited from attending the event if so desired.

We are grateful for the support that we have received from OCPS and OCCPTA. We continually encourage parents and community members to join PTA to participate and have input in our programming.

Audubon Park Elementary PTA Executive Board


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Host of WMFE's Intersection & Assistant News Director

A recent transplant to the Sunshine State, Matthew Peddie grew up in New Zealand and studied journalism at the University of Western Ontario. After graduating with an MA in Journalism he returned to Christchurch, working as a reporter for Radio Live and Radio New Zealand. He’s reported live from the scene of ... Read Full Bio »

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