New White House Gender Policy Council
Discriminates against Boys and Men
January 24, 2020
by Sean Kullman
When I first read J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy, I buried my memories of Deliverance and read intently as Vance depicted the Appalachian ethos and a part of the country often forgotten about by many Americans. Several years later, Ron Howard made the book into a motion picture that premiered on Netflix and received mixed reviews because of its intentional effort to sanitize itself of political controversy.
A good portion of the book and movie portrays Vance’s opioid addicted mother. It’s a symbolic look into the opioid crisis impacting Americans. Although Vance’s experience with his mother is a lived experience and one that at least addresses the issue, the male opioid narrative needs greater attention nationally. Male opioid deaths represent the majority of “legally prescribed and illegally produced fentanyl” deaths according to Kaiser Family Foundation analysis of CDC data. Global Initiative for Boys & Men reviewed KFF and CDC data and created a comprehensive 10-year data-set. Like so many issues regarding the well-being of boys and men, the public narrative remains subdued by government, media, and educational institutions. A new policy by the Biden administration will only contribute to the challenges and issues plaguing boys and men.
When President Biden and Vice President Harris announced the formation of a White House Gender Policy Council, many women and men who care deeply about boys and men became rightly concerned. The call for unity and the Gender Council’s agenda would ironically exclude the rights of boys and men. The new council will “guide and coordinate government policy that impacts women and girls, across a wide range of issues such as economic security, health care, racial justice, gender-based violence, and foreign policy, working in cooperation with the other White House policy," according to a press release.
The History of Gender Policies that Ignore Boys and Men
Several administrations have formed councils to advance women’s causes and issues. The White House Council on Women and Girls and the Office for Women’s Initiative and Outreach under previous administrations are predecessor of the new White House Gender Policy Council. Although the White House Gender Policy Council title includes the word gender, this gender council will exclude boys and men. In the Biden/Harris press release obtained from Forbes, the release uses the word girl 5-times and the word women 16-times while clearly indicating the White House’s intended purpose: to “guide and coordinate government policies” for the purpose of helping "girls and women” while ignoring the needs of boys and men. (The words boy and man do not appear in the press release or the policy for a council on gender). Replacing the word gender for the words women and girls gives the appearance of equality, but it's clear the council is not intended to engage in equality. This and other policy announcements are happening during the midst of a pandemic that kills more males than females (60-70% of COVID deaths are male) and has widened the education gap between our sons and daughters. Boys and men are doing much worse than their female counterparts in schools. New data shows the decline among men in higher education during the pandemic has worsened significantly more than it has for women.
“While enrollment in higher education overall fell 2.5 percent in the fall, or by more than 461,000 students compared to the fall of 2019, the decline among men was more than seven times as steep as the decline among women, according to an analysis of figures from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center."
"In a sense, we have lost a generation of men to Covid-19," said Adrian Huerta, an assistant professor of education at the University of Southern California who studies college-going among boys and men.
California is one of 37 states that collects high school diploma data by gender. CA Dept. of Education data reveals that all boys of all races do worse than their female counterparts of the same race. Brookings estimates that 45,000 fewer males receive high school diplomas annually nationwide. GIBM believes that number is much higher. Over the last 4 years, California had 76,106 fewer boys earn high school diplomas. California alone has 19,027 fewer boys earn high school diplomas than girls each year.
Policy Action and the Call for Equality
Equal opportunity is the bedrock of American democracy. Biden’s policy push undermines the very fabric of gender equality. California Department of Education and U.S. Department of Education data underscores the single greatest truth regarding policy action and educational outcomes. All boys of all races do worse than their female counterparts of the same race.
Global Initiative for Boys & Men will combat some of the challenges boys and men face with an open-source resource. GIBM’s BAM Index (Boys and Men’s Well-Being Index) is under construction. Lawmakers, educators, researchers, government officials, attorneys, non-profits, and media outlets will have access and be able to contribute to the largest repository of well-being data on boys and men. It will serve as a reliable resource to all those who want to influence the landscape of equality for boys and men. Social media influencers will be able to use data-graphics as memes knowing the source information is reliable. Anyone will have access to a set of data-graphics, spreadsheets, and links to original sources. The BAM Index will take time to expand, but it will become an essential source that saves advocates time and financial resources. In the interim, we encourage those interested in the well-being of boys and men to use our data-graphics, articles, and resources to advance the causes of boys and men and demand gender equality for boys and men and the women who love them.
Our sons continue to lead the nation as victims of COVID deaths, suicide deaths, homelessness, violent crime deaths, violent crime victimization, opioid deaths, gun deaths, incarcerations, and a number of other health and mental health issues. They are behind in education on all levels. We can no longer ignore our boys and men who are often forgotten about in policy actions that discriminate on the basis of sex.
As the President of the Global Initiative for Boys & Men, I am calling on all of us to insist our leaders and government policies protect all boys, girls, men, and women. Democracies do not pick and choose who deserves equal protection under the law. Democracies ensure all people have equal protection under the law.
Sean Kullman, President, Global Initiative for Boys & Men
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