Recently, @michaelianblack tweeted + wrote in @nytimes about “suffocating, outdated” systems of masculinity helping drive the epidemic of mass school shootings. As folks who explore #toxicmasculinity in school quite a bit we thought we might expand on this topic further. [1/11]
From ’95-’15 there were 31 mass school shootings. Each shooter was male & all experienced challenges to their performance of masculinity, through homophobia & other forms of gender policing. The response? To prove their tormentors wrong & assert control (Farr, 2017). [2/11]
We know that homophobia, sexism, & gender policing are still prevalent in schools, though individual acts of bullying are somewhat on the decline. Unfortunately, overall, educators’ intervention in these incidents is also on the decline... [3/11]
…indicating a troubling breakdown of support for those who might be targeted for how they perform masculinity. We know that even now, school staff are rarely provided with tools to counteract homophobia, sexism, & taunts regarding gender expression. [4/11]
This also suggests a failure of gender normative institutions & culture to recognize & respond to the marginalization of boys who don't conform. Globally, boys are allowed far less space than girls to act outside the norms forced upon them (Chandra-Mouli et al, 2017). [5/11]
Within this context, many boys may be left, as @michaelianblack puts it, “isolated, confused, and conflicted.” -- often repressing “feminine” emotion and asserting “masculine” strength, dominance, and violence. [6/11]
Of course most boys experience some gender policing & don't commit acts of mass violence like in Parkland. Rather, these incidents may arise from a dangerous mix of toxic masculinity, mental health issues, lack of support/connection, & access to guns (Bushman et al, 2016). [7/11]
Our society’s typical notion of what it means to be a man might keep boys from reaching out or accepting help. It may also lead them to assert masculinity via weapons that are often exalted as symbols and tools of masculine strength and power (Leek & Kimmel, 2008). [8/11]
This may be especially true for white, heterosexual, cisgender boys, who – while standing at multiple intersections of privilege and power – are far more likely than their marginalized peers to commit these catastrophic acts of violence (Farr, 2017). [9/11]
There is no one cause of mass school shootings. Nor should there be one response. Yet, for the wellbeing of young people of all genders, it’s crucial for EVERYONE (in schools & elsewhere) to expand our ideas of what being a man can & should be. [10/11]
For our references + further readings on the connections between #toxicmasculinity and youth violence, click on the image below. Of course, it’s tough to cover everything in a few tweets, so please share your own thoughts and readings on this important topic! [11/11]
P.S. Can't believe we forgot to cite our own work! Both of the charts we posted are taken from our report From Teasing to Torment: School Climate Revisited. Check it out, along with all of our publications on school climate for LGBTQ students, at

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