Students break through gender expectations

With team-building exercises and vivid conversations about gender stereotypes, last month’s “Cracking the Guy Code” proved to be an influential forum for the males of Diamond Bar High School.

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Photo courtesy of Sandy Davis

Students listened to a guest speaker during "Cracking the Guy Code" in the school’s gym.

With team-building exercises and vivid conversations about gender stereotypes, last month’s “Cracking the Guy Code” proved to be an influential forum for the males of Diamond Bar High School.

Organized by the Wellness Center, the event included activities that ranged from interactive games and challenges to speeches and heart-to-heart conversations where the 125 males who attended learned a little more about their peers and themselves.

One of the highlights of the forum, according to sophomore Cody Chang, was an activity similar to the red light-green light game, where the students would step forth when topics pertained to them.

“One of the questions were step over the line if you’re racist and over 20 people stepped over,” Chang said. “Then, other questions such as, ‘have you had suicidal thoughts,’ and probably 90 percent of the people stepped over.”

Divided into four groups, nine male mentors coming from South Hills High School and Academy of the Canyons, rotated around the different circles, where they discussed and answered questions about topics that included the definition of the boy code and how they might be treated differently as boys.

The forum also invited two speakers John Janclaes, CEO of Partners Federal Credit Union for Disney, and Dr. David Burger, a psychologist consultant for Olympic athletes and corporate executives, to share their journeys in achieving success in both their personal and professional lives.

Junior peer counselor AJ Cembrano also recounted an icebreaker game in which students would open up about experiences that they previously did not feel comfortable sharing.

“We also had an activity called ‘if you knew me well, you would know that..’ or something that no one really knew about you that’s kind of private,” Cembrano said.

The different proponents to create this event were due to what the Wellness teacher Sandy Davis saw as an increasing need for educating males about the changing society brought by the Time’s Up and Me too movements.

“We’re in a historic time that gender roles and expectations are changing, so this poor group of gentlemen, Gen Z, they’re really confused,” Davis said.

Though Davis was originally worried about the amount of participants, the forum turned out to be a success with multiple males, at the end, sharing from the podium about the lessons they learned.

“It’s just a really nice experience where you get to meet people and learn new leadership skills while communicating about your insecurities and opening your eyes to the problems that other people have,” Chang said.

The event’s impact not only affected its participants but encouraged the organizers to continue with this program.

“One of the things I asked on our evaluation is, ‘After this conference, of learning what you’ve learned, would you change and make more intentional decisions?’, with 100 percent of the 125 boys saying yes,” Davis said.

With the positive feedback from the workshop, Davis has furthered her efforts by initiating a monthly afterschool discussion group where males meet in the Wellness Center for 90 minutes to learn more about the unpredictable components of male behavior.

Nevertheless, the message behind the event is something that junior peer counselor AJ Cembrano hopes is clear and effective.

“I really hope that they took what they learned from it and applied it to their actual life,” Cembrano said.