D86 Speaker Series discusses masculinity


Screenshot from the documentary “The Mask You Live In”. The D86 Speaker Series recently showed the movie at the end of February.

Students, parents, and coaches confronted the question of what it truly means to be a man. The D86 Speaker Series, a PTO sponsored event that showcases important documentaries for students and faculty, recently held two showings of the documentary The Mask You Live In. The documentary addresses the personal impact ‘ideal’ masculinity has upon young men in their development. Written and directed by the director of Miss Representation, the film touches on the constant need to prove oneself as a man in personality, athletic achievement, and in appearance.

A discussion revolving around issues of masculinity followed both showings. Three social workers from the community, a private therapist, and a coach led the discussion in a panel style.

Suzanne Wychocki, a community volunteer for the speaker series, spearheaded the committee managing this project. She believed the showing was one of the most well attended events in the series.

More than 250 people attended the screening on Wednesday night, Feb. 24, and more than 120 on Thursday morning, Feb. 25, according to committee member Kelly McMahon.

The series considered showing documentaries about the Common Core, social emotional learning (SEL), and had previously shown Race to Nowhere, a documentary about overstressed and tested students. The committee chose to show this piece this year because it resonated deeply with parents.

“[Most of us] have boys, coach boys, or know boys that struggle. We all have passion about raising our boys into young men,” Wychocki said.

Wychocki believes the showing started a necessary conversation and that the issue affects every parent and boy differently, but further action in the community is being taken.

According to Mr. McMahon, a school guidance counselor, Robert Crown is considering forming a discussion group* to keep conversation alive about this issue.

The documentary also comes with a curriculum under the acronym SELAS to help educate students about masculinity and handling changing cultural identity. The D86 administration has a copy of the film and curriculum, but Wychocki said implementation is a slow process up to the school board.

*If you have interest in the Robert Crown discussion group please contact Katherine Leibforth ([email protected])