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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!)
I would consult with the counselor and probably sit down with the girls and the counselor to talk with them about cultural assumptions in the United States. I would make sure that the girls did not feel that they had done anything wrong but still make them aware of some cultural differences of affection so that they are informed. I think addressing the topic to the entire class could cause embarrassment for the girls; however, I would speak with any students that I heard making comments and alert other teachers and the administration of the issue so that the rumors can be put to a stop.
 
     
     
  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:
Rated On: May 25, 2013 8:20 am
Rated By: Johnnie Skelton
 
     
     
  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 like your solution about sitting in with the counselor. Also, I said in my solution that the teacher should address the class, but I never thought about the embarrassment that it could cause for the girls. I think you may a valid point here.
Rated On: May 24, 2014 11:27 pm
Rated By: Justin Redmond
 
     
     
  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: Great post! Explaining to Ada and Elsa the difference in culture is a good start, as long as it is made 100% clear that they did not do anything wrong and should not be ashamed.
Rated On: October 17, 2014 7:01 pm
Rated By: uJasuX
 
     
     
  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 completely agree with this solution. Getting the school counselor involved would help the two girls further understand why the kids made remarks about holding hands in the first place. Also, clarifying that they did nothing wrong will help them feel less uncomfortable about being talked to. Depending on how the girls felt it would be wise to ask if they would feel embarrassed by the class getting talked to. If so, a great solution is to personally talk with any student who further makes remarks towards the girls.
Rated On: February 25, 2015 8:40 pm
Rated By: Meredith Bentley
 
     
     
  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: Talking to the counselor and other teachers will definitely help in educating the students about the girls' culture and one can also include the danger of spreading unfounded rumors to the lessons as well. This lessons might also help them in dealing with other situations in school and in future.
Rated On: September 19, 2015 9:01 pm
Rated By: yWasyD
 
     
     
  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: Good suggestion.
Rated On: March 6, 2017 2:55 am
Rated By: uhuQyM
 
     
     
  Rating
The suggested solution is respectful of the individual (student) No
The suggested solution is relevant to the case No
The suggested solution is reasonable (easy) for the teacher to implement No
The suggested solution is likely to solve the problem/issue No
The suggested solution is original No
Comments: This solution it focus on the girls (doing something that is not part of this new culture) and in this case they are the ones being bullied, so for sure it is an issue to be addressed with the entire classroom.
Rated On: October 14, 2018 1:41 am
Rated By: Penelope Navarro