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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!)
While I would agree that the girls' feelings must be acknowledged and addressed, the bigger picture is addressing the dominant culture of the school. From a principal standpoint, I will address the issue first with my faculty, inviting them to share their thoughts are the girls' issue - believe it or not, teachers do heavily influence the culture of the school. Next, I would give all teachers the charge of incorporating the teaching of cultural differences in their instruction to increase the students' awareness of minority cultures prevalent in our school(e.g. Ade and Elsa). Finally, I would have a private conversation with the girls and their parents in my office to share with them some facts about the American middle school culture that exist in our schools. Also, I will inform them that while I (or my teachers) cannot control what their peers will say, if they wanted to dispel the rumors, they should consider not holding hands while in school. Also, I will emphasize that it was their choice, and that I will continue to support them and other minority cultures by promoting cultural diversity my school.
 
     
     
  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 one of the most thought out solutions that I have come across, especially talking about the issue from the point of view of the principal. However, this scenario is giving from the point of view of the teacher. What if the teacher were to go to the principal or his/her fellow faculty members for support on this issue and not receive it. How would you then handle situation?
Rated On: August 29, 2014 5:02 pm
Rated By: ePeHyM