I am so often asked, "But what about the boys??" Obviously our work is girl-focused, but changing our culture isn't a girl or woman's job - it's all of our responsibility! We were so grateful to see so many people of so many different ages, genders, new parents, grandparents… and especially so many dads at our Teen Wisdom Panel! But what about the teen boys? There was ONE!
So, guess who comes up to me after the panel to thank me for my work, to thank me for the life-long impact I've had on these girls and so many others... yup, THE TEEN GUY. With kind eyes and a grounded presence, guess who slips a wad of cash into my hand as we acknowledge this powerful moment... yup, THE TEEN GUY. And as we count up the monies at the end of the night, guess who turns out to have donated more than almost every individual who gave... yup, THE TEEN GUY!!!
Now, I don't want to come off ungrateful or belittling in any way. Every bit of help makes this work possible ~ kindness makes the world go ‘round! But, I cannot help but have my mind blown that a teenage guy, who at 19 has already begun a career selling life insurance... a teen who has never met me before or attended anything like this, who seems a completely ordinary teen boy - donated more than almost any other individual in attendance. And as I contemplated, I realized he must have been planning it, gotten the cash, prepped himself to approach me, before he even knew what would happen. Just being so bold as to come up to me and share the impact this had on him would have been enough. By the way, most young men can’t even bare to look me in the eyes. But the pride of making a choice to invest in the future of teen girls, while looking me in the eyes… dang.
So, here is my question: How did this young man become so extraordinary? What does it take to grow more teen boys who believe, not just that empowering girls is the “right” thing to do, but that it’s their responsibility to do it? Of course I assume there must be someone great at his back; a parent, a girlfriend, a mentor of some kind. But you know, we can do a lot of work to raise conscious teens - that boy still has to choose to be an awake man.
This was the most extraordinary surprise of the “Teen Wisdom Panel” about spending a night “inside the lives of teen girls” - the one teen guy, who showed me what it means to be a man. Thank you G. As I told you, you are f’ing awesome, and you, my friend, are a good man.
Check out our *RESOURCES PAGE* for boys support.
*Though we work with queer youth and families and have supporters and panel-guests who identify in this way, I have specifically chosen to focus on the language of “girls” and “boys/men” in this article to prove my point about how rare it is to have a cisgender male prepared to hand me a fat wad of cash in support of empowering teen girls. We are as inclusive as possible in all our programming of all LGBTQ folks, and I welcome your thoughts/praise/feedback on this article. Thank you for reading!