TeacherServer.com
Home | How It Works | Stats
Login | Register
     
  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!)
I think that incorporating in a lesson about friendships in other cultures would be appropriate. The lesson could include videos of people from all different cultures demonstrating the ways they show their friendships. I think that having the other students view this would make them more aware of how other cultures display their friendships and it would hopefully help them find the girls holding hands more acceptable. This assignment would be hard to fit into a science classroom but if your school uses team teaching hopefully the social studies teacher could help you with this lesson. I would also in the most culturally sensitive way possible explain to the girls that Americans donít display their friendships in that way but also at the same time try to let the girls know that they should be comfortable continuing to display their friendship in the way that they always have and let them know that you support them and will help them anyway possible.