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Asian teens openly joke, lament and mostly endure the intense academic pressure from their families — the expectation of perfection, and the drive to keep up with the Zhangs and Kumars.

Now, propelled by clusters of teen suicides and evidence of student distress, many of their parents are confronting and examining those cultural differences.

It was especially thrilling because this boy was a year older than me and he went to a different high school. Even then, he still understood that I couldn’t tell my parents anything and that we had to pursue our relationship in secret. I refused to step foot into a restaurant or the local mall with him out of fear for a family friend or relative seeing us.In Palo Alto, school and community leaders have convened sensitive conversations to address parenting, expectations and a traditionally taboo topic — mental illness. ” said Ann Xu, who runs the Chinese-Language Parent Network at Gunn High in Palo Alto.Four of the last nine Palo Alto youths to kill themselves were Asian. “That’s a really complicated issue.” A growing dialogue within Asian communities is playing out in many of the Bay Area’s high-performing school districts, but the challenge of easing student pressure is also raising tensions and even a backlash from parents and highly motivated students — who worry reforms might dumb down learning.Mills High in Millbrae offers forums put on by the Chinese Health Initiative.In Sunnyvale and Cupertino, parent Sharlene Liu is campaigning for five high schools to start later in the morning.

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