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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 think that Ade and Elsa should learn about American culture and why the other students believe that they are lesbians, I believe the primary issue here is the other students who are starting rumors. Middle schoolers often say very unkind things to one another, and it is frequently dismissed as a problem that goes along with their age. I think that all of the students need to have a discussion about rumors and bullying, and if it is possible to single out who is primarily responsible for spreading the rumors, those students should be spoken with individually and consequences given if the behavior doesn't stop. Bullying is a real problem in schools today, and no student deserves to be mistreated. Even if the girls were in a lesbian relationship, they do not deserve to have hurtful things said about them. A lesson on cultural differences may be in order as well, but the girls should not be forced to stop their behavior, and the other students should not be allowed to continue to say hurtful things.
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 did not think of this as a solution but I really like it. It is so true that children are so mean and hateful to others and is should not be discounted as 'it is just their age". It does need to be addressed and there need to be consequences. I feel that it has gotten out of control because there is no accountability for students bullying others.
Rated On: May 25, 2015 12:11 am
Rated By: Melissa Aspinwall