purple fish guts

Friday, February 25, 2005

Diversity Clubs

I was reading the Des Moines Register web-site this morning, looking for a laugh, and I found this article about a Diversity Club. "A Diversity Club?" I thought to myself. Isn't that bordering on the oxymoronic? I mean, aren't clubs, sorta by definition, comprised of people who have things in common?

Well, since we didn't have Diversity Clubs when I was in school, I thought I'd do a little more research. As it turns out, this is quite the craze. There's a whole bunch of them sprouting up all over the place. Where have I been?

There are even a couple 0n-line tutorials in case you are interested in starting your own Diversity Club.

How To Start a Diversity Club gives 10 easy steps. I found a couple of them to be rather amusing.

3. Be inclusive in your invitations to join your group. Invite your friends and family and encourage other members to do the same.

8. Involve adults as well. We all have a great deal to learn from each other!

Awwww....man. You mean I have to invite my parents? Why would I want to be in a club with my parents? They'll probably just want to sit around and talk about the good ol' days and play dominos. Or worse yet, they might push for a field trip to Furr's Cafeteria so we can see what old people eat like.

All One Heart seems to take a bit more of the "here's the way we do it.... so you should too" approach. They even provide The Pledge and What Can You Do.... Today? for you to print off and tape on your bathroom mirror.... and hand out to your members so they can all tape them on their bathroom mirrors. I don't know.... there's just something humerous about the idea of a formulaic diversity club.

After Googling a bit I started to realize that there are quite a few different interpretations of what a Diversity Club should be and do.

There are a whole bunch of the obligatory "We have a Diversity Club" web pages out there. In general, they look something like this and essentially give the message "The boss man says we have to have a Diversity Club. If you want to be a part go talk to a guidance counselor."

Some are trying to help kids learn about different cultures and customs... which is what I think they should be doing. A pretty good example of one of these is Greenhill School. They even have pictures of events on their site. It actually looks like it'd be fun.

The Diversity Club meets after school and is open to all Middle School students, faculty and parents. Each month we focus on a different part of the world. Students native to the country, or whose family is from the region, as well as students who have developed strong interests in the country, prepare informal presentations. Dance demonstrations, musical ensembles, and traditional clothing are part of the event. We always end the event by tasting authentic foods of the region covered.

Some have taken the cultural differences idea, combined it with the Gay Rights agenda, and then proceeded to focus on the negatives. There seems to be less of a "Let's learn about each other" mindset and more of a "This is the way we are.... so deal with it" attitude. I found evidence of some groups that appear to be a bit more militant, but overall I'd say Emmett O'Brien Technical High School is a pretty good example of this type.

The Diversity Club at Emmett O'Brien Tech for 2004-2005 is a merger of the two former clubs, Melange and Crossing the Line (Gay Straight Alliance). Because the goal of both groups is to increase tolerance and respect for people of all backgrounds, genders, races, religions, and abilities, we have combined the two groups and call ourselves Diversity/Alliance Club.

This club is open to all students who want to foster tolerance and respect for all students at Emmett O'Brien and in their communities. In October we participated in the National Mix-It Up At Lunch Day with schools all over the nation. It was an effort to have students sit at different tables during lunch so they could learn to know new people. We are also participating in No-Name-Calling Week from January 24-28 in order to encourage students to say positive things about each other rather than negative comments.

We are planning other activities including an international potluck and possibly a Talent Show. In the spring, we will participate in the National Day of Silence in memory of our GLBT friends who have been bullied, as well as possibly attend the True Colors Conference.

And then there were some that were just plain funny.... to me anyway.

Northfield High School

The Diversity Club is a place where any one can meet to discuss what to do about diverse issues like Martin Luther King Jr. day and Kwanzaa.

Penn State DuBois

Some common questions:
    What is diversity? Diversity according to the Merriam-Webster Online dictionary is "the condition of being diverse" (http://www.m-w.com/home.htm, January 22, 2001)

    Ok so know what is Diverse? Again, according to the dictionary it is "composed of distinct or unlike elements or qualities" (http://www.m-w.com/home.htm, January 22, 2001)

    What is the club about? The club is about You and what you want to make of it.

Yes, I realize I'm going on and on and I don't really have a point to make. I was just curious what a "Diversity Club" might be, and I thought I'd pass on my findings.

There's still one thing that's bugging me about this whole thing. I've been to High School and I have a really hard time believing that kids are jumping on board with all this warm-n-fuzzy-embrace-diversity stuff. I mean the first thing that comes to mind when I hear "High School Diversity Club" is a bat that the football team keeps in the locker room. And I'm certain that somewhere there's a little pack of snotty teenage girls whispering:

    "Oh, my gawd. Can you believe her?"

    "No! No! I can't look."

    "She is like so completely weird."



    "I mean, she's not even a member of the diversity club."

    "That is like so un-cool"