Time for an Age of Reason and Compassion | Letter

The data is real but there is a real lack of caring for boys and men in general and this is a big reason little is done to help them. The attempt, for instance, to establish the first commission on the status of boys and men in the country was cavalierly dismissed in Washington state where males are 78% of suicide and 70% of overdose deaths. Even with bi-partisan support in both houses, a thorough report by the Global Initiative for Boys and Men on state outcomes in many areas, an address to state representatives by Richard Reeves of the American Institute for Boys and Men to members of the legislature on his book Of Boys and Men, and a state that hosts the Gurian Institute (the leading researcher and practitioner on models that use a boys and girls learn differently approaches in education), there was no movement for the bill to receive a hearing. The bill to establish the commission will be working its way through the legislature again through the work of the Washington Initiative for Boys and Men in hopes of finally recognizing the outcomes of boys and men in a host of areas in a state that does have an important commission on women and desperately needs one for boys and men.

The good news, however, is that the Melinda French Gates Foundation has just awarded the American Institute for Boys and Men a $20 million dollar grant, perhaps a first step in recognizing the problems facing boys and men by a philanthropist who has largely and continues to largely support girls and women’s issues but whose eyes and heart are opening up to boys and men’s issues.

We cannot move past the outcome data, and it certainly serves as a reminder of just how far we need to go and why it’s important to move compassionately and more swiftly toward helping boys and men. It’s time to look past lazy thinking and rely more on things like:

· Evolving brain science

· Reversing the lack of support from academia, media, and policymakers that rely too much on male social norm theory

· Exercising reason and compassion over the habitual practices that dismiss our nation’s sons as defective and privileged.

There are deep biological reasons to how males and females function and respond to the triggers that lead to despair. Let’s spend the time and direct our resources toward avoiding stigmas and taking on the challenges with meaningful policy and practices that look at that data and the best approaches that lead to positive outcomes for our boys and men.

Sean Kullman is the president of the Global Initiative for Boys and Men a non-profit 501(c)3 incorporated in Friday Harbor.www.gibm.us Kullman lives in Pleasanton California. Philip W. Cook is the Secretary/Treasurer of the group and lives on San Juan Island.