Why is “Boys Will Be Boys” Still Accepted Wisdom In Our Schools


In today’s modern society, we have come a long way in breaking down barriers of prejudice and promoting equality amongst all individuals, regardless of their gender, race, or social background. However, despite positive steps forward, the age-old adage “boys will be boys” has held its grip on many of our educational institutions, fostering harmful stereotypes and condoning negative behaviors.

1. The Origin and Perpetuation of the Phrase:

The phrase “boys will be boys” is often used to excuse certain behaviors associated with boys and young men — be it roughhousing, talking out of turn in class, or engaging in aggressive play. While this expression may seem harmless at first glance, it reinforces damaging gender norms that can lead to long-term consequences for both boys and girls in school settings.

2. Impact on Children’s Behavior:

By employing the “boys will be boys” rationale, teachers and other educational authority figures inadvertently send a message that boys’ actions—no matter how problematic—are a normal and expected part of growing up. This belief can inadvertently socialize young men to adopt attitudes that could lead them to engage in more reckless behaviors later in life.

3. Effects on Female Students:

When “boys will be boys” is blindly accepted in schools, educators fail to see the negative impact this thinking has on female student populations. Girls may feel they must adapt their behaviors around these expectations or face biases themselves. This perpetuates toxic masculinity and fosters an environment where the rights of female students are overshadowed or disregarded altogether.

4. Discouraging Emotional Expression:

Strong emotions often signify weakness or vulnerability within the male stereotype. By encouraging this ideology through phrases like “boys will be boys,” educators may inadvertently prevent male students from finding healthy outlets for their feelings. Not only does this have significant effects on mental wellbeing but further sustains a toxic culture where boys are deemed unfit to express themselves openly and genuinely.

5. Working Towards Positive Change in Schools:

To combat the perpetuation of this outdated notion, schools must adopt a proactive approach to addressing gender roles and expectations across all levels of education. Educators must be vigilant about their language choices and actively work to dismantle harmful gender stereotypes by offering comprehensive sex education, fostering safe spaces for conversation and awareness, and actively addressing sexism within the classroom.


The adage “boys will be boys” is archaic at best, and at worst, a harmful reinforcement of toxic masculinity within the educational sphere. The key to change lies in challenging these beliefs and working collaboratively to create a more inclusive environment for all students. Only when we take these necessary steps can we ensure that children grow up with the right mindset to empower them to take control of their feelings, actions, and futures.

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