U-Florida offers Halloween costume counseling

Counselors will be standing by around the clock to help University of Florida students deal with offensive Halloween costumes, reports The American Mirror.

University officials advised students to avoid costumes that “reinforce stereotypes of particular races, genders, cultures, or religions.”

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Students who are “troubled” are urged to e-mail the U Matter, We Care program, phone “a 24/7 counselor in the Counseling and Wellness Center” or contact the Bias Education and Response Team.

At the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse, students were invited to attend a seminar called “Is Your Costume Racist?”

The UWL Hate Response Team has also launched investigations into sidewalk chalk on campus that read “Trump,” “Build the wall,” and “All Lives Matter” because the phrases are considered “hostile,” the Mirror reports.

At the K-12 level, Colorado has banned clown costumes in school because of the “creepy clown” panic.

Halloween costumes scare college kids

Halloweeen is scarier than ever on college campuses, where dressing up as something you’re not could be “cultural appropriation.” Wesleyan is advising students on how to avoid holiday microaggressions, reports Inside Higher Ed.

(The) . . . Office of Student Affairs is hoping to help students avoid distasteful costumes this Halloween by posting signs around campus that feature a cultural sensitivity checklist to determine if a costume is offensive.

It encourages students to ask themselves whether their costumes mock cultural or religious symbols, attempt to represent an entire culture or ethnicity, or trivialize human suffering, oppression and marginalization.

So, no crazy people, hobos, jail inmates, Geishas, sexy nuns, leprechauns, rappers . . . Is “zombie” a disability?

Walmart’s super-sized “Sheik Fagin” nose — also suitable for parodying Jews — would be out too, I guess.

The University of Louisville’s president, James Ramsey, had to apologize for hosting a Mexican-themed luncheon with sombreros, mantillas, mustaches, maracas and a poncho.

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Sombreros are prohibido

Sombreros are prohibido at Britain’s University of East Anglia reports The Tab, a student newspaper.

Pedro’s Cantina, a Tex-Mex restaurant near campus, handed out free sombreros at a fair for new students — until they were ordered to stop.tumblr_inline_nvdoaf4GSG1tv19na_500

To ensure that everyone feels “safe and accepted, . . . we try to ensure that there is no behaviour, language or imagery which could be considered racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic or ableist,” said Chris Jarvis, a Student Union official.

“Who is going to get offended?” asked a first-year student. “Speedy Gonzales?”

Minneapolis pulls ‘Lazy Lucy’

Minneapolis Public Schools officials have pulled readers with “racial and cultural stereotypes,” reports the Star-Tribune.

“Lazy Lucy,” a “little book” for K-2 students, features an African girl.

Teachers also complained that “Nieko the Hunting Girl” stereotyped Native Americans. (I’m sure the author was proud to feature a girl hunter.)

A book on Kenya emphasizes Kenyans love of sports and ability to “run very fast” and “run for a long time.”

The books were part of a larger literacy curriculum purchased from a Utah-based company called Reading Horizons.

Teachers and community members also “were also upset that the district contracted with a company that identifies one of its core values as ‘faith,” reports the Star-Tribune. The Reading Horizons website says a survey showed employees “believe in a higher purpose of life. We seek to do His will and to achieve balance in our lives.”

Don’t worry, said Susanne Griffin, the district’s chief academic officer. “The values are not promoted through the program.”

Reading Horizons is rewriting books to please Minneapolis and other schools, implementation coordinator Laura Axtell told the Salt Lake City Tribune.

“Lazy Lucy” has been available for three or four years, Axtell said. More than 10,000 schools use Reading Horizons programs.

A German TV series called Lazy Lucy features a redheaded girl.

Two strikes and black kids are out

Teachers are more likely to see students as troublemakers headed for suspension if they think they’re black, according to a new Stanford study, Two Strikes: Race and the Disciplining of Young Students.

Amontre Ross was suspended frequently from Milwaukee schools. Photo: Gary Porter

Amontre Ross was suspended frequently from Milwaukee schools for disrupting class. Photo: Gary Porter

Primary and secondary school teachers were given descriptions of two incidents of misbehavior by students with names suggesting they were black (DeShawn or Darnell) or white (Greg or Jake). After reading about each incident, they “were asked about their perception of its severity, about how irritated they would feel by the student’s misbehavior, about how severely the student should be punished, and about whether they viewed the student as a troublemaker.”

Racial stereotypes didn’t kick on for the first infraction. But, after a second offense, teachers were more likely to label the “black” students as chronic troublemakers and see themselves suspending DeShawn or Darnell in the future.

Recruited by the thought police

I was recruited by the thought police, writes Suzy Lee Weiss, a University of Michigan student, for her hometown Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Posters on campus urge students to “Stop. Think.” before speaking lest they commit a “micro-aggression,” she writes. The Inclusive Language Campaign asks students to sign a pledge. “We’re all being drafted as thought police, charged with regulating the speech of our peers,” she writes.

Operating under ILC’s logic, I am hostile for offering a cupcake to a diabetic without knowing of his condition, racist for suggesting we “work the kinks out” on a group project and generally insensitive for having an opinion on any subject that I have not directly experienced.

I guess I can’t write that paper on Homer this weekend: I wasn’t there to witness the violence of the Trojan War.

At mandatory assemblies, new students are taught that “wishing someone a merry Christmas is a micro-aggression,” she writes.

Yet actual aggression is tolerated.

Earlier this semester, my friend Omar Mahmood was fired from the campus paper for writing a satirical essay making fun of political correctness on campus. Apparently that wasn’t enough punishment for some of his fellow students, who threw raw hotdogs and eggs at his door and left profanity-laced notes telling him to “shut the … up” and that “Everyone hates you, you violent …,” among other acts of ugliness. So much for inclusivity.

Thus far, nothing has happened to the vandals despite their being caught on camera. The school has not issued an apology or a press release. And Omar still can’t write for the paper because he refused to apologize.

Politically correct students, professors and administrators are silencing debate on campus, Weiss argues.

She proposes the “Don’t Be an Idiot Campaign.” It would tell college students that “some people are bigots” and others may hurt their feelings inadvertently.AsianFINAL2

I checked out the ILC Facebook page, which tells students what party costumes are OK (Fonzie, Super Mario Brothers) and which are not. It turns out that some people might be offended if you dress as an Arab suicide bomber.

Other do-not-wear costumes include:  belly dancer,  burka wearer, black gangsta (with vampire!), burro-riding sombrero wearer and redneck with banjo, straw and cap.

“You wear the costume. I wear the stigma for life.” says the Asian nerd, who’s pictured with a bowl of rice, chopsticks and a pile of math books. This is a party costume?

Isn’t Fonzie a stereotype of an Italian greaser? And the Super Mario Brothers are stereotypes of Italian plumbers. Not all Italians are cool. Or plumbers. Yet they wear the stigma for life.

The campaign has inspired some parodies.

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Single-sex classes are on the rise

Separate classes for boys and girls are making a comeback in public schools, according to the New York Times.

POMPANO BEACH, Fla. — In one third-grade classroom, the walls are bordered by cheetah and zebra prints, bright pink caddies hold pencils and glue sticks, and a poster at the front lists rules, including “Act pretty at all times!”

Next door, cutouts of racecars and pictures of football players line the walls, and a banner behind the teacher’s desk reads “Coaches Corner.”

The students in the first class: girls. Next door: boys.

. . . Here at Charles Drew Elementary School outside Fort Lauderdale, about a quarter of the classes are segregated by sex on the theory that differences between boys and girls can affect how they learn and behave.

Teachers “recognize the importance of understanding that Angeline learns differently from Angelo,” said Angeline H. Flowers, the principal.

Social scientists disagree, notes the Times.  Critics say segregating by sex encourages stereotyping. The ACLU has sued to prevent single-sex programs. In response, the Obama administration has issued new guidelines.

Schools may set up such classes if they can provide evidence that the structure will improve academics or discipline in a way that coeducational measures cannot. Students must have a coeducational alternative, and families must volunteer to place their children in all-boys or all-girls classes.

But the guidance says that “evidence of general biological differences is not sufficient to allow teachers to select different teaching methods or strategies for boys and girls.”

“I am very concerned that schools could base educational offerings on stereotypes,” Catherine E. Lhamon, assistant secretary for civil rights, told the Times.

Research hasn’t shown significant academic benefits — or drawbacks — from single-sex education, says Janet Hyde, a University of Wisconsin psychology professor.

Segregating by sex is based on a “zombie idea,” writes Dave Powell in Ed Week. Lack of evidence can’t kill the “specious claim that boys and girls simply learn differently.”

People cite “fake brain science” to support sex-segregated classes, writes Lise Eliot in Slate.

I don’t have a problem with letting parents choose a single-sex class, if they think it will benefit their child. I believe there are no significant brain differences between boys and girls, but there are behavioral differences. And we’ve got to figure what kind of elementary teaching works best for boys, who are falling behind their female classmates. Still, I wouldn’t have chosen an “act pretty” class for my daughter.

Celebrating girls — or stereotypes?

“Empowering” girls can look a lot like enforcing gender stereotypes, writes Scott Richardson on Pacific Standard.

His daughter participates in Girls on the Run, a 5K run (or walk) for girls — no boys allowed — in third through eighth grade.
(Photo: Girls on the Run)Volunteer coaches lead their team through a pre-packaged curriculum designed to “encourage positive emotional, social, mental and physical development.” Girls discuss self-esteem, confidence, teamwork, healthy relationships, and “challenges girls face.”

Though boys are banned, older male relatives and friends run with girls as “sponsors.”

Men, women and girls are encouraged to “girl it up” with “skirts, tutus, big bows, bold patterned knee-high socks, tiaras, etc.), apply make-up or face paint, and spray color their hair,” writes Richardson.

There’s nothing for girls who might want to “butch it up.”

Richardson also questions “bombarding girls with ‘positive’ messages about themselves meant to counteract negative ones.” The program implies “that girls aren’t considered equal to boys.”

“What messages are girls really getting when special programs are aimed at trying to make them feel good about themselves as girls?” he asks.

No watermelon for Black History Month

Plans to celebrate Black History Month with a lunch of fried chicken, cornbread and watermelon have been canceled at a Christian girls school in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Principal Nancy Libby sent an apology letter to parents and held an assembly to discuss the issue.

“Chicken, watermelon, collard greens — these are stereotypes of black Southern culture that come from the same place where the N-word comes from,” said University of San Francisco Professor James Taylor. 

After the menu drew complaints, Libby consulted with Black Student Union members on campus. They nixed the watermelon,  but it looks like fried chicken and cornbread are off the menu too.

Powderpuff football is sexist, dangerous

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Powderpuff football is sexist, divisive and dangerous, according to the principal of a suburban Boston high school. Newton South Principal Joel Stembridge canceled the school’s annual girls’ flag football game, which pits juniors against seniors.

On The Corner, Andrew Johnson links to a screenshot of principal’s e-mail on Acculturated.

The principal lists the five reasons why the tradition was ended, such as injuries and “destabiliz[ing] our normally supportive, welcoming, intimidation-free school environment.” The gender-specific nature of the game also resulted in its cancelation.

“In terms of gender politics, the name ‘powerderpuff,’ which most students still call the game, inadvertently serves to mock the hard-fought struggles of female athletes to be taken seriously and, we think, perpetuates negative stereotypes about femininity and female athletes,” the e-mail read.

In addition, the game “does not include the whole school” or “celebrate the diversity of interests of our students, nor does it encourage appreciation for the skills and/or expertise developed here at South.”

By this logic, Newton South should cancel varsity football too.