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  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings



When attending the University of Texas at Austin School of Social Work (now “Steve Hicks School of Social Work”) in 2013, I was assigned to a Communities in Schools (CIS) internship site at a high school in Kyle, Texas. It had been 18 years since I was last in high school, at which I barely performed well enough to graduate.


The mission of the CIS program was to surround students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life. Thus, my role as a social work student was to encourage high schoolers who were like me in my youth so that they could also enjoy success regarding their interests and goals.


While at my internship site, I was asked to participate in a CIS program called the XY-Zone, referencing XY chromosomes which determine the male species. The “zone” feature ostensibly ties in well with the XYZ theme and designates community (i.e., a specific zone of influence).


According to CIS Central Texas’ website, “The XY-Zone is a leadership development and peer support program,” and, “XY-Zone participants demonstrate improvements in grades, attendance or behavior; they increase volunteerism, leadership, and future aspirations, and they are challenged and empowered to aim high.”


In a way, my role as an XY-Zone mentor was akin to that which I experienced as a child in connection with the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, as I had several big brother role models who encouraged me in my youth. Therefore, I appreciated being able to fulfill a similar role for boys in the XY-Zone, about which one source states:


Built within the expansive network of Communities in Schools (CIS), the XY-Zone program actively works with male students in high schools to help them navigate the challenges associated with their school issues, healthy personal relationships and academic futures. Similar to other K–12 educational programs, this program offers a small-scale, community-based approach to an educational problem that is approaching epidemic levels. The initial XY-Zone chapter was started in Austin, Texas, in 2000, and it has since expanded throughout the CIS network to other sites across the country.


Throughout the years, with male-centric spaces being diversified with females (e.g., Boy Scouts of America being blended with females), I’ve wondered if the XY-Zone would preserve its integrity. After all, CIS maintains a diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) policy statement:


In August, 2019, Communities in Schools formalized its commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, and embarked on a three-year plan to operationalize that commitment into every facet of our work. We seek to break down barriers and transform systems in order to eliminate an achievement gap that is based on educational disparities and unequal access to resources. We strive to explicitly embed diversity, equity, and inclusion in our policies, systems, and strategy; to operate with a sense of urgency and accountability grounded in compassionate leadership and equity-minded practice; and to build a culture that inspires constant learning and continuous improvement.


I strongly oppose DEI measures. To my surprise and current knowledge, and despite the activistic word salad encapsulated in CIS’ DEI statement, the XY-Zone continues to fulfill its mission concerning male mentorship. Well done!


For those men in search of a purpose-driven and meaningful opportunity to help empower boys so that they may be shown a path to success, you may be interested in ways of supporting the XY-Zone – before it inevitably falls to institutional capture of DEI rhetorical nonsense.


If you’re looking for a provider who works to help you understand how thinking impacts physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral elements of your life—helping you to sharpen your critical thinking skills, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.


As a psychotherapist, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues ranging from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters.


At Hollings Therapy, LLC, serving all of Texas, I aim to treat clients with dignity and respect while offering a multi-lensed approach to the practice of psychotherapy and life coaching. My mission includes: Prioritizing the cognitive and emotive needs of clients, an overall reduction in client suffering, and supporting sustainable growth for the clients I serve. Rather than simply helping you to feel better, I want to help you get better!



Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW




And one, D. (2019, February 1). Girls can join the Boy Scouts now – but not everyone is happy about it. CNN. Retrieved from

Communities in Schools. (n.d.). Communities in School [Official website]. Retrieved from

Communities in Schools, Central Texas. (n.d.). The XY-Zone is a leadership development and peer support program. Communities in Schools. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2024, May 3). A bad IDEA. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, March 15). Disclaimer. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2023, October 12). Get better. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (n.d.). Hollings Therapy, LLC [Official website]. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2024, January 2). Interests and goals. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2023, September 19). Life coaching. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, June 23). Meaningful purpose. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Norman-Sims Community Village. (2021, August 5). Response to request for proposal. City of Austin. Retrieved from

Sáenz, V. B. and Ponjuán, L. (2012, Spring). Latino males: Improving college access and degree completion — A new national imperative: Promising practices. Perspectivas. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Boy Scouts of America. Retrieved from

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