A new play center, Kids Go Wild, in Birmingham, U.K. has a café, several slides, a ball pit, monkey bars and more. But it isn’t the center’s facilities that are gaining attention. They’ve branded themselves as “what you’ve all been waiting for, the UK’s first ladies and children’s only soft play centre!”
Dads and other community members are outraged; a play center that bans fathers is not what they’ve been hoping for, the Birmingham Mail reports. Many call the policy sexist and now, the Equality and Human Rights Commission is investigating to see whether the facility can continue to act as a dad-free zone.
According to the Birmingham Mail, “They claim the ban is for ‘cultural’ reasons and in the interests of the ‘predominantly Asian’ local community.” Birmingham is home to a large Asian population as well as a large Muslim community, the Herald Sun reports.
But residents find fault in Kids Go Wild’s logic. “In the Muslim community men and women being separate is normal at religious events and social functions. But a play centre isn’t a religious or function thing, “dad-of-three Tariq Mahmood told the Birmingham Mail. Habib Rehman, a Muslim dad-of-four, agrees. “This is a worrying situation – there’s something wrong here when a dad can’t take his kids to a play centre,” he told the paper.
One mom, identified as only Gemma, finds the “no boys over age 9” policy troubling. “I have four boys, luckily all under the age of nine, but if one of them was older, I wouldn’t be able to take any of them,” she told The Daily Mail.
Another dad pointed out to the Birmingham Mail that turning men away is not only sexist, but it violates the Equality Act. The act he refers to was set in 2010 and bans unfair treatment of people both in the workplace and in society.
A spokesperson for the Equality and Human Rights Commission said “The Equality Act does allow for some services to be just for women or men-only, but this is the exception not the norm and must pass a strict test to be justifiable,” in a statement. The group plans to look into why Kids Go Wild does not allow men and if they find that the policy violates the Act, they will ask the center to remove the ban, the Daily Mail reports.