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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 believe both solutions would be necessary in order to be culturally sensitive to both sides. The students in the school are clearly a part of a culture where it is not normal for friends to hold hands, which is not bad or wrong. However, Ade and Elsa must know that two girls holding hands in America does not portray the same image it would if they were still in Indonesia. In order for everyone to get a better understanding, I would suggest speaking to Ade and Elsa along with the rest of the school, not separated, and explain to students that this is just a cultural difference. I think it would be great if Ade and Elsa were allowed to talk to the students and explain it themselves also. They could even discuss and show others things that may be different in their country, and some of the student body can tell them about America. The girls should be allowed to practice their culture and beliefs, however they must also be aware that they are in a new place with different beliefs, and be prepared for any ignorance that may occur.
 
     
     
  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 No
Comments: The two girls are probably not aware of the social implications of their behavior due to the differences in cultures between their homeland and America. It would be a good idea to speak with the whole class about respecting the rights of others to express themselves, and that expressing friendship is not necessarily demonstrated the same way in all cultures.
Rated On: July 1, 2013 10:35 pm
Rated By: PyruNe
 
     
     
  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: Your response is a lot like mine, but in different words. I do completely agree with you. I think that both sides of the party need to know how the other side sees what is going on. I think both sides have a right to feel the way they do, but they need to also know why the other feels differently.
Rated On: May 25, 2015 3:10 pm
Rated By: TyhyMa