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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!)
First off you have to explain to all the students that it is very stereotypical of them to assume someone is a lesbian just because they are holding hands. Let them know that just because you see something like this, you can never assume something about two people, and you definitely should not be spreading rumors! Make sure students are aware that it is culturally acceptable for these girls to hold hands. Then talk with the girls explaining that personal display of affection is not allowed at public schools. This means girls cannot hold other girls hands, and boys cannot hold other boys hands, and boys and girls cannot hold hands. Make aware that the school policy is that students should keep their hands to themselves at all times, and this should clear up both ends of the spectrum. You can still use this as a learning tool for other students to understand that stereotyping is not okay, and make sure the girls are aware while at school they have to keep their hands to themselves.
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 in that it applies to both parties of the situation. It is talking to the students as a whole about not judging and classing people in situations when they don't know what the situation is and also lets the girls know that it is against school policy and should help the situation on their end.
Rated On: October 17, 2014 4:41 pm
Rated By: Sanubu