Friday, February 15, 2013

Boy, Girl or Both?

In an earlier HMS News article we blogged that the focus of the HMS Civil Rights Team for this year would be behaviors motivated by bias. For example, was the name-calling motivated by race and color, ancestry and national origin, religion, physical and mental disability, gender, sexual orientation, personal appearance or family status. Other behaviors that we will focus on are teasing/mockery, jokes, stereotypes and exclusion. Again, through the lens of bias.

We have used lunch time to feature a bias around this question: How might someone treat another person differently because of (fill in the bias)? To date we have asked our students to think and share thoughts at the lunch table for the following bias's: ancestry and national origin, religion, and today, gender. The question for thought today was: How might someone treat another person differently because of gender?

To encourage the conversation members of the HMS Civil Rights Team led an activity at each lunch. Each table had one of the following words prominently displayed:

  • Dirt-Bike, Motorcycle
  • Hunting
  • Baseball, Football
  • Truck
  • Shopping
  • Perfume
  • Fishing
  • Dance Class
  • Purse
  • Superheroes
  • Dolls
  • Jewelry
  • Wallet
  • Make-Up
 Civil Rights Team members stood on the stage with a Boy, Girl and Both sign posted on the stage curtain. They asked the students at the tables where they would place their table word. For example, if you were sitting at the table with "superheroes" would you place it under Boy, Girl or Both. 

It was a successful activity, the students engaged and had a lively discussion of where to place each word. As expected there was agreement and disagreement within and across the lunches. All in all, the students have a solid grasp of what stereotyping means, how too easy it is to fall into it, and how harmful that becomes. 

We will continue with other bias's using the same question to encourage our students to think about treating everyone with respect and dignity while being tolerant of our differences.

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