Mark McCormack went back to high school while researching his new book, The Declining Significance of Homophobia: How Teenage Boys are Redefining Masculinity and Heterosexuality. For a year, he got to know high school boys and was surprised at what he discovered:
"I was nervous about how I would experience the next year of my life," McCormack writes. "I was about to spend the next 12 months in schools, hanging out with and getting to know 16- to 18-year-old male students. Socializing with straight guys wasn’t something I had found particularly easy when I was a closeted, geeky teenager 10 years ago. Back then, teenage boys were homophobic, misogynistic, and aggressive. They distanced themselves from anything deemed gay or feminine. Imagine my surprise, then, when I found out that these teenage boys today have adopted a new, softer version of masculinity. Collecting data with hundreds of male students across three high schools in the south of England, I found a new generation of young men had redefined masculinity in ways unrecognizable to their fathers."
The study was done in the UK, but it gives me hope that his findings are the future for North American youth. Times are changing, and as one of McCormack's teenage subjects asked with simplicity and confusion, "Why wouldn't you support gay rights?"
Check out the 10 Surprising Facts About Teenage Boys.