Our new approach to Equalities – that is designed to help the city work for everyone including men and boys – is 100% aligned to the new national Equalities Strategy and Brighton & Hove Council’s 2010 Single Equalities Scheme.
What our new approach to Equalities does is simply take existing Equalities thinking to its natural conclusion by addressing the ongoing exclusion of men and boys which is deep-rooted within the current system and prevents those who take responsibility for delivering Equality in Brighton & Hove from ensuring that our city works equally well for everyone – including men and boys.
The new national Equalities Strategy states that the old approach to Equalities meant that “too many people were made to feel that equality is not for them”
In our opinion the group most significantly excluded from the old approach to Equalities was – and still is – Men and Boys.
The new Equalities Strategy sees “every person in Britain as different, each with a right to an equal chance to do well in life” – including men and boys
The new Equalities Strategy recognizes that life expectancy at birth, child mortality, the school results of 7 year olds, your chances of being excluded from school and how well you do in you GCSES all impact on your ability to do well in life.
The group most likely to underperform in education, get excluded from school and die younger is men and boys.
This new national Equalities Strategy recognizes that we must tackle the barriers that stop people living their lives the way they want to, or may stop them doing the everyday things they want to do. These barriers include things like being treated unfairly, or not getting enough support.
And the biggest barrier that men and boys face is the failure of those who work in the world of Equalities to recognise men and boy as a unique and distinct group with a unique set of barriers which prevent them from getting the help and support they need to help them:
- Live long, happy, healthy lives
- Get the best possible education, career and work-life balance
- Live a life free from violence, abuse and crime
- Get support to be a great dad at every stage of fatherhood
The failure to include men and boys in Equalities thinking has affected not only straight, white men but also all the men who fall into the traditional Equalities groups such as gay men excluded from all-female political shortlists and black boys who are more likely to separated from their fathers, be excluded from school and arrested by the police.
What our new approach to Equalities will do is not only build on the national Equalities Strategy’s focus on helping the individual behind the identity – which we strongly support – but also recognise that every individual has a mix of identities all of which are worthy of equal focus – including men and boys.
To provide a tangible example, Brighton & Hove has the second highest rate of suicide in the country and 97% of victims are white, 67% of victims are men and the majority of victims are young white men.
However, in our city’s suicide strategy while there is no commitment to promote the mental health of young men who are the majority of victims, there is a commitment to promote the mental health of other “vulnerable groups” including:
- People from black and ethnic minority groups
- Women during and after pregnancy
- Older people
This failure to include young white men as a vulnerable group in a strategy that seeks to tackle an issue where the majority of victims are young white men is a prime example of an outdated approach to Equalities that has left many men and boys feeling that Equality is not for them.
Similarly, our city’s broader Mental Health Promotion Strategy commits to delivering specific mental health initiatives to “address equalities issues” by targeting the following people:
- Lesbian Gay Bisexual & Transgender communities (LGBT)
- Black and Minority Ethnic (BME)
- Gypsy and traveller communities
- Older people
- People living in areas of deprivation
- People living in East Brighton
This exclusion of men and boys from our city’s strategies happens over and over and over again across every area of work because of the old and outdated approach to Equalities.
Our new approach to Equalities is aligned to the aim of the new national Equalities Strategy to support the individual behind the identity whilst proudly recognising that every individual’s identity defines their experience of life and we can longer continue to deny that being male is an identity that deserves to be recognised and understood if we are to take action to make sure that every individual in our city is treated equally and fairly – including every man and every boy.
This approach can only enhance the work we already do to help and support people in the traditional Equalities identities such as women and girls, LGBT communities, disabled people, BME and faith groups – because a city that works for men and boys is a city that works for everyone.