by Janaya Andrews
A boy calls a girl a b**ch after arguing about rumors going around school. He grabs his backpack and knocks over a desk in frustration. Before the teacher can stop him and calm him down, the boy is down the hall fuming in anger, swearing at the walls.
The newest guys-only club at McClymonds — First Love Yourself or FLY — addresses such issues of disrespect toward women, confidence and responsibility in a more social atmosphere than the Manhood class for 9th graders, says Lovell Ruffin Jr. , case manager at Alternatives in Action.
The brainchild of Jareem Gunter, community programs manager, the program was launched to help male students talk about these issues, bond and develop self-respect. So far, about a dozen male students, mostly freshmen, are attending.
“I need a person I can look up to,” said Hosea Wade, a 9th grader.
The reasons for joining FLY range from a desire to bond with other guys outside of sports teams to a need for a safe place to ask questions and get information.
“Some of the guys don’t know how to tie a tie,” said Gunther. “Others need to respect girls or women.” The current trend — to disrespect women — began 10 years ago and is reflected in rap music and culture, he said.
Some of the freshmen realize that it’s time to confront sexism. “I want to be in the men group to be more mature than I am now,” said freshman Desmond Crump. “I want to be more polite towards girls, my parents and any other adults I talk to,” said freshman Quentin Garrett.
So far, the focus has been social. But the three adult leaders have written a pledge they hope to teach club members: to honor themselves, to hurt no one, to build community.