Casey Froese, hockey player: are we ready for girls in the boys’ room?

Front page of the Windsor Star today:

Casey Froese (age 11) is a minor hockey player in Windsor, Ontario. Recently it was discovered that she’s been suiting up all season in the boys’ (ages 9-10) locker room. Since then, she’s been told to suit up somewhere separate from the boys. Glenn Froese, her father, says this is sex discrimination and that she has a right to suit up with the boys.

The Windsor Minor Hockey Association Bylaw says that girls aren’t allowed in dressing rooms until 10 mins before game time. After games, girls have to leave the room before players remove equipment.


Dad brings up issues of of team bonding and how important it is that the players stay together. All the kids wear shorts and tshirts underneath (though this is not mandatory), that no one is showering or getting naked (although they could). From this angle, it seems like the question to ask is “what’s the harm?”

Well Mr. Froese, I agree with you. I think it would be great if everyone could get changed together and that gender didn’t matter. I think it would be great if everyone could just be team players and if no one cared whether you were girl or boy, gay or straight, cisgender or transgender, or every other possibility. Wouldn’t it be great if we knew for certain that everyone would be safe no matter where they went or what they wanted to do, regardless of their gender, sex, religion, skin colour, ethnicity, class, ability, etc? Wouldn’t it be great if 50% of women in Canada weren’t victims of physical or sexual violence at some point in their life (StatsCan)?

But we know that’s not the case. We know that women are victims of violence on much too frequent a basis. We’re talking about your daughter. She has a one in four chance of being a victim of sexual violence (Stats Can). You are gambling with the chances of whether or not she’ll be safe here. You think yes. Others say no. Can you guarantee that your daughter and every other girl will be safe at all times? You hope so but can you guarantee it?

How about we take all the kids out of the boys locker room. Have them change in the lobby. Or create a gender-neutral change room. As long as girls are in the boys’ room, the boys have the power. And I don’t think we’ve made that much progress yet. Maybe someday, but not yet.


7 Responses, Leave a Reply
  1. Jan Karlsbjerg
    09 April 2007, 6:43 pm

    Can you guarantee that your daughter and every other girl will be safe at all times? You hope so but can you guarantee it?

    Why does he have to live up to that enormous burden of proof in order to change things locally? Should we demand this level of guarantees from anyone who want to change anything in our society?

    Cheers from Vancouver,
    Jan Karlsbjerg

  2. Candace
    10 April 2007, 8:59 am

    I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ensure safe spaces for the girls on the teams. It may seem like a big task (or is it just inconvenient?) but not an impossible burden if safety was important. Would you wait until after a girl is harassed or worse?

    Girls and women are raped in their communities (and most often by people that are familiar to them) — that’s why a local change is significant.

  3. Jan Karlsbjerg
    10 April 2007, 1:17 pm

    I was commenting on your argument itself, not the issues of gender, harassment, violence, etc.: If we demand absolute guarantees before any change, nothing will ever change.

    No four-way-stop will ever get a traffic light, because the person who proposes the change cannot guarantee that not a single person will be harmed because of the changed traffic patterns.

    Cheers from Vancouver,
    Jan Karlsbjerg

  4. Candace
    10 April 2007, 2:43 pm

    Thanks for clarifying Jan. When we’re advocating social change we have to build in safety features and if our change puts people at risk then we need to consider who the change is going to benefit. From what I read and heard about this, nothing was being done or suggested to ensure safety. This is a real concern for all the reasons above and why the decision makers need to consider whether we as a community/society we are ready to take this step. I don’t think we are.

  5. Samantha Janisse
    17 April 2008, 12:51 pm

    Well i agree with this wonderful man’s arguement. I think that at a young age the female gender should be able to change with the males. They are a team and should be together. I also think that once they reach a certain age they should get a differnt dressing room. But until then…

  6. Candace
    17 April 2008, 1:06 pm

    Thanks for commenting Samantha. I don’t think we disagree — I’m not arguing that boys and girls can’t get changed together, ever. What I’m saying is that putting girls in the boys’ change room gives the boys an unequal amount of power and puts girls at risk of harassment including sexual violence. What “at a young age” means though I’m not sure. Is 11 young? Some girls menstruate at that age. Is this “young”? If you want to argue that the team should be together doesn’t that transcend age?

    If there was a gender-neutral change room staffed and supervised by adults representing two or more genders you might have a chance of convincing me that this could be a good thing.

    Another question though, has anyone wondered why they aren’t all changing in the girls’ room?

  7. Jess
    22 November 2008, 8:09 pm

    personally, i know exactaly how the father feels!!!! i play hockey on a guys team too and am going through the same thing! i play midget rep and i totally hate changing by myself! i definately feel excluded from the team by far!!!! im either stuck on the other said of the arena, shoved in a janitors closet, a bathroom etc and its totally brutal!!! and lonely!!! yea sure i play on the ice with the team but i never have a chance to actually get to know any of my teammates! and the best time to bond with your team is in the dressing room! i miss out on everything! i personally think its our choice wether or not we want to dress with the guys! were the ones taking the risk! and if anything were to happen well then thats for me to deal with! even if there was a contract or something i would sign saying that i understand the risks etc!

    This whole matter is brutal!!!

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