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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 think it is time to talk to your students about what other cultures do things we might not be accustomed to, such as same-gender friends holding hands in Indonesia and other countries, I'm sure. Also, be sure to inform students that they are bullying and stereotyping against another cultures beliefs. It might be helpful to find similar things that other cultures do that we don't typically do here in the US, and share them with all the students. I would also explain that even if it's not seen as the norm here now, we are becoming more and more culturally difference every day. We shouldn't judge people by the choices they make because we never know why we make them (in the instance of Ade and Elsa).
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 that the students should be informed of the girls background and culture. They do need to understand why the girls are acting this way and that they are bullying someone based on their own personal beliefs. Hopefully after the students learned about their culture, they would stop the rumors and accept the two girls for the people that they are and develop friendships with them and make them feel welcome.
Rated On: May 22, 2014 12:00 am
Rated By: Kimberly Rahn