It’s time to celebrate diversity in all its forms

Uma Bhatia, Opinions Editor

There is a great discrepancy in the number of boys and the number of girls in certain extracurriculars and sports at LBHS. In a community that so vocally supports the arts and athletics, there’s a bit of confusion regarding why boys aren’t taking up these activities. Dance, cheer and theater are just a few of the programs on our campus with room for greater participation from boys. However, boys aren’t necessarily lacking interest in pursuing them. Rather, we as a student body need to continue to grow in the ways we promote and support every individual, regardless of gender, to pursue their passions. It’s not until guys at our school feel confident that they won’t be judged that they will join any program that interests them.

“I do think there are some boys who would want to join dance but are scared,” said Justin Kellam, a dancer at LBHS.

Fear is a debilitating force deterring many potential participants. The question, “What will people say about me if I do this?” has definitely crossed the mind of every student. Everyone who has been in high school knows the social struggles we face daily, and we need to stop pretending that somehow Laguna Beach High School is the one school that is completely accepting and evolved.

Don’t get me wrong, the city and schools of Laguna Beach do a great job of promoting a community where diversity is encouraged. However, this same accepting atmosphere does not exist among most students at LBHS. There is still a negative stereotype here surrounding boys taking part in certain extracurriculars and sports.

Fearing that their peers will pass judgment or poke fun, boys interested in joining an activity don’t always make the move. And their concerns aren’t due to an overly sensitive self-consciousness. They may very well overhear people talking about them for not following the “norms” of our society. However, lucky for us, despite the social pressures there are still brave people among us who are willing to express themselves. There are five boys in dance this year.

“This is the most boys I have had enrolled in dance in my six years at LBHS,” said dance teacher Estee Fratzke.

The male dancer increase is positive, but we still need to increase our cheer numbers. This year, Alex Lemus, a senior, is the only male on the cheer team.

“Sometimes he gets the loudest cheers from the crowd,” said Athletic Director Lance Neal, “but that also doesn’t mean that there’s not a kid or two out there who unfortunately might say something negative to him.”

Lemus is a confident member of cheer, but he understands that others are not as fearless.

“I know for a fact that there are boys on campus that would love to join,” Lemus said. “They are afraid people will make fun of them.”

Our student body claims to value acceptance and reject intolerance. If that’s true, then why exactly can’t we celebrate male involvement in programs comprised of mostly females? Our community definitely supports the arts, but students at LBHS need to work on being more accepting and not talking about people negatively for doing what they want to do. Not every high school student in LBHS is as accepting and evolved as we’re believed to be. We talk about people behind their backs and, honestly, I don’t think we regret it as much as we should. Still, our school is regarded as an accepting, diverse place. If we want to keep that reputation, we need to make great strides to show we actually support diversity in all forms, such as boys participating in activities like cheer, theater and dance. 

Lastly, for those of you who fear being alienated from your peers for being a trailblazer, I hope you will feel inspired to be a part of activities that fall outside of what has been traditionally expected. If boys continue to do this, it will make it easier for all boys to express who they really are without stereotypes holding them back. Although some of our students still have room to mature and admire the courage of those who won’t be deterred from their passions, remember that the city of Laguna Beach is still a great place to explore who you are and express yourself to others.