Saturday, March 3, 2012

OYE Scholars Tackle Gender Diversity

This past weekend the becados had a capacity building class on Gender Diversity. This was the second week they had a class on this topic, taught by staff member Michael Solis, who has a master’s degree in human rights law and who has worked on gender diversity issues for years.

The first course on gender diversity focused on representations of gender across religions and cultures. OYE kids examined representations of masculine gods, feminine goddesses, and gods that comprise a fusion of the genders from the religions of India, Japan, ancient Egypt, and ancient Greece, among others. The class continued with a discussion of key terms, like gender identity, sexual orientation, gender conformity, the gender spectrum, and stereotypes, as well as an analysis of two diverging conceptualizations and interpretations of gender.

Hapi, the ancient Egyptian god of the Nile     
Ardhanarishvara, the fusion of Shiva and his consort Shakti 

Masculinized representation of God, or El Señor.
Gender Diversity as seen in modern day pop life. 

This week, the Gender Diversity class took on a new role: debate. OYE students engaged in a guided debate on a controversial issue that arose recently in the United States: Ellen DeGeneres and J.C. Penney. J.C. Penney recently asked Ellen, a lesbian, to be the new spokeswoman for their company. This caused a huge debate because a group called 1 Million Moms felt that Ellen should not be the spokeswoman for J.C. Penney due to her sexual orientation and her “non-traditional values.” (For more information, watch Ellen's response to 1 Million Moms).

The scholars divided into two teams. One team argued as 1 Million Moms and the others argued in favor of Ellen being J.C. Penney's spokeswoman. After ten minutes of discussion, the teams faced each other in the debate. Team 1 introduced their arguments, followed by Team 2. Judges assessed the quality of the debate and named the winning team as Team 2 (pro-Ellen).

The debate was a challenge for the Team 1 students, many of whom were in favor of Ellen being the spokesperson but who had to argue against her. For them, the debate was an exercise in entering the minds of people who think differently.

OYE scholar Adonay Reyes arguing his team's stance before the judges.
The class ended with a reading of the translated Rolling Stones article “One Town’s War on Gay Teens,” assessing the topic of bullying in schools, team suicide, and the lack of leadership in parents and the school system. OYE scholars compared US-based bullying to sexual orientation-based bullying in their schools and brainstormed ways that students, family members, school officials, and politicians could make schools a safer place for all students, regardless of sexual orientation.


gerald said...

el debate fue interesante, escuche a algunos becados hablando de esto... aprenden muy rápido... felicidades a los becados y a los capacitadores en los diferentes temas

Michael Solis said...

The capacity class was an absolute pleasure to teach. Gracias Gerald!

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