Through art and self-expression, BGS students have been exploring the importance of celebrating diverse masculinities to promote inclusivity and equality.
Under the guidance of Student Wellbeing Program Director Ms Philippa Douglas, students have created an interactive installation, named Broadening the Bandwidth, to encourage healthy masculinity.
The installation is on display in the Lilley Centre.
Year 11 student Nicholas Love enjoyed using Lego figurines to showcase the different ways we express love to subsequently better understand how relationships work.
“There are a lot of stereotypes and toxicity that can occur between boys especially in terms what you should be doing,” Nicholas said.
“Healthy masculinity is about teaching boys how to be themselves.
“A lot of it just comes down to following your passions and just being a good person.”
Students designed a “man box” with labels listing words related to the pressures of stereotypical masculinity, such as “strong” and “dominant”.
Male figurines climbing out of the box were symbolic of breaking free from gender expectations, said Year 11 student Tom Chan.
“It represents men coming out of the man box, and being able to express who they are and who they want to be,” Tom said.
“If everyone goes by one label of masculinity, it hurts everyone because people who don’t feel like they fit in feel pressured and hide what they like doing.”
As part of peer education, Year 6 students also discussed the main themes conveyed in the installation during their Student Wellbeing lessons.
The project aligns with the Respectful Relationship curriculum as part of the School’s Protect and Connect Program (PAC). PAC covers three topics; Bullying, Respectful Relationships and Healthy Sexuality, and Student Leadership.
With White Ribbon Day to be held on 17 November, the Broadening the Bandwidth installation is a timely reminder of how toxic masculinity can be a key contributor to violence against women.
To mark White Ribbon Day, BGS students this week participated in the You Can Ask That program hosted by White Ribbon Australia.
A panel of experts visited BGS to answer student questions – which were submitted anonymously – to encourage challenging conversations about complex social issues, such as emotional, physical and sexual violence, impacts on family members, gender inequality, harassment and abuse, and much more.
The panelists included Ms Douglas, the Assistant Director of White Ribbon, Jayson Tarawhiti, an ambassador at Small Steps 4 Hannah, Dave Kramer, and veteran and ambassador at Bravery Trust and White Ribbon, Kevin Hughes.
“The program, a collaboration between White Ribbon Australia and our school, is a crucial part of our commitment to promoting respectful relationships and healthy sexuality among our students,” Ms Douglas said.
In a statement about the You Can Ask That program, White Ribbon Australia said: “Research has shown that teaching men and boys about respectful relationships, consent and positive masculinity is essential in promoting gender equality, preventing gender-based violence, and supporting the mental health and wellbeing of men and the safety of women.
“Education is a critical component in teaching boys and young men about respectful relationships and consent.”
After the panel discussion, students took the guest speakers on a tour of the Broadening the Bandwidth installation.