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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 agree with some of my classmates that there needs to be a combination of both of the solutions. First, I would have a class discussion about how different cultures operate and differ from other cultures like ours. I would even find different areas of our culture that other cultures might find weird. I would also talk with the two girls and explain to them why this problem is occurring. The two young ladies in this scenario might not be aware that holding hands is what's causing the bullying. However, I would not tell the students to stop holding hands as this would be culturally insensitive. Students at this age do not always understand the impact that their words have on others. It is our job as teachers to ensure that every student is provided with a safe environment to learn regardless of the cultural beliefs or background.
 
     
     
  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 with you. I believe that this particular case needs to be handled in two ways. Ade and Elsa need to be educated about how their hand holding is the source of the rumors and bullying. I would explain to them that in America, people hold hands to display affection and love. In Indonesia, it is a sign of friendship. That is a subtle difference, but is the source of these horrible rumors and actions. I would also educate the class about the Indonesian culture and provide Ade and Elsa the opportunity to share with the class their beliefs, ideals, and traditions. I would promote cultural sensitivity and acceptance through showing just how different we are from the rest of the world. I would have the students put themselves in Ade and Elsa's shoes and ask them how would they feel if they were suddenly told that they were moving to Indonesia. It is important for everyone in that classroom to feel accepted.
Rated On: September 5, 2013 6:10 pm
Rated By: jaMyDu
 
     
     
  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: You are correct, it is the teachers job to make everyone feel safe regardless of where they are from. Explain to the girls why this is happening and let them decide from there.
Rated On: October 17, 2014 4:54 pm
Rated By: Sanubu
 
     
     
  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: This is a good solution. It is a combination of a lot of the good solutions on this page all together. I think it's a good idea to talk to the class as a whole and inform the girls about whats happening to them and why its happening.
Rated On: October 19, 2014 1:10 pm
Rated By: Adam Sanchez