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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 do both! I think that it is important to discuss the issue with students in your class to address the cultural issues at stake. As many other solutions have stated incorporating a lesson on muliple cultures would be a great way of showing how friends interact in different cultures. I also, would suggest to my administrator a way to incorporate a school wide multicultural educational lesson in order to get everyone involved. Showing videos,reading stories, or other activities that show different cutoms from different cultures. Also, since the girls came to you I would discuss with them the reason students are spreading rumors and tell them that the best way for the rumors to stop is by stopping holding hands. I know that is probably a ridculous thing but middle school students can be harsh and sometimes you have to play by the rules even if you know they are unfair.
 
     
     
  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 do not fully agree with not allowing the students to hold hands. This is not significantly inappropriate or offensive. Therefore, I believe having the conversation as a class and discussing various culture will help others understand why they hold hands. During this time other students can share customs or practices that they participate in.
Rated On: May 25, 2014 10:26 pm
Rated By: Cierra` Barksdale
 
     
     
  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: Showing a lesson on friends in different cultures treating one another is a brilliant idea.
Rated On: October 18, 2014 7:21 pm
Rated By: Amanda Meredith