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  Case: Donít Hold Hands
Ade and Elsa are two 7th grade girls from Indonesia who joined our school couple months ago. I teach them Physical Science. They have well-developed English skills. Although they have an accent, they can communicate with teachers and fellow students. I am very sensitive to the needs of newly-arrived immigrant students, so I paid close attention when I heard rumors from other students about them. Students started spreading that Ade and Elsa were in a lesbian relationship. Apparently Ade and Elsa heard about the rumors; they came to me in tears. I asked them to tell me what was going on. What I found out was very interesting. Ade and Elsa have known each other since they were small children and they have always been best friends. Their families decided to move to the US together. Their fathers applied for jobs in the same company. They both received offers and moved together. Ade and Elsa were excited about going to the same school in US and continuing their friendship. In Indonesia, same-gender friends holding hands is very common and indicates friendship. When children at our school saw Ade and Elsa holding hands they thought that Ade and Elsa were in a lesbian relationship. I have to do something about this. I see two options before me: I will explain to the children in my classes that friends holding hands in some cultures is completely normal, or I will tell Ade and Elsa to not hold hands to avoid these rumors. The second option seems culturally insensitive, but if Ade and Elsa continue holding hands, rumors will continue even if I explain to my students the cultural side of their friendship. What should I do? If you have an original solution to this issue, please advice.
Solution: (Rates are posted for this solution!)
Kids can very cruel especially during this age when they are trying their hardest to be liked and fit in with everybody. I think a lot of this has to do with the lack of understanding of Ade and Elsa's backgrounds. I would address the culture differences and the bullying issues at the same time. I would explain to the class that in some cultures, holding hands is a sign of friendship and not anything romantically. This can be a good lesson to do with the students. They will learn about how cultures differ. I would also tell the class that bullying of any kind is not okay. We shouldn't be bullying others just because they are different from us.
 
     
     
  Rating
The suggested solution is respectful of the individual (student) Yes
The suggested solution is relevant to the case Yes
The suggested solution is reasonable (easy) for the teacher to implement Yes
The suggested solution is likely to solve the problem/issue Yes
The suggested solution is original Yes
Comments: The saying "When you know better, you do better" is what we hope will happen in this situation. But with children, you can't tell the outcome until you actually jump out there with an explanation. I would also ask the girls do they mind allowing me to discuss the cultural diversity with the class and they can be present or not while we discuss it and then they could answer any question I could not answer for the students to help open their understanding. But just because they know better, it does not mean that they would do better. Bullying is a topic that it takes lots of understanding to help kids to understand the incorrectness of it.
Rated On: May 24, 2013 12:07 am
Rated By: Love Joy
 
     
     
  Rating
The suggested solution is respectful of the individual (student) Yes
The suggested solution is relevant to the case Yes
The suggested solution is reasonable (easy) for the teacher to implement Yes
The suggested solution is likely to solve the problem/issue Yes
The suggested solution is original Yes
Comments: Understanding the emotions of your student is important. Showing how people hold hands all around the world is a good solution.
Rated On: October 18, 2014 7:18 pm
Rated By: Amanda Meredith
 
     
     
  Rating
The suggested solution is respectful of the individual (student) Yes
The suggested solution is relevant to the case Yes
The suggested solution is reasonable (easy) for the teacher to implement Yes
The suggested solution is likely to solve the problem/issue Yes
The suggested solution is original Yes
Comments: I agree that addressing the cultural difference is the way to navigate this difficult issue. I think if you explain that everyone is different and if you come from a different place you might have different habits is a better way to address the issue than talking about lesbians in class. I also don't think students will learn from holding hands with everyone.
Rated On: February 24, 2015 2:39 am
Rated By: Autumn Carroll
 
     
     
  Rating
The suggested solution is respectful of the individual (student) Yes
The suggested solution is relevant to the case Yes
The suggested solution is reasonable (easy) for the teacher to implement Yes
The suggested solution is likely to solve the problem/issue Yes
The suggested solution is original Yes
Comments: Thank you for this solution! I think the other solutions missed the point that whether the two students were lesbian, or holding hands in friendship is virtually irrelevant. Bullying is not ok period.
Rated On: February 21, 2018 2:03 am
Rated By: uDyJeZ