A lesson plan to go with “Diversity is more than race” from the May-June 2010 issue of L.A. Youth. In this article, Casey writes about learning that diversity is not just people of different races, but also different experiences.

By Amanda Riddle, co-managing editor

Grades: 7-12
Subjects: language arts, social studies, life skills
Suggested Time Allowance: 45 minutes-1 hour

• copies of the L.A. Youth article “Diversity is more than race” (one per student)
• pens and paper
• white board or blackboard

Students will come up with a definition of diversity and examine what they’ve done to meet diverse people, and how they’ve learned from them.

Write “Diversity” on the board. Ask your students, what is diversity? The most common answer will probably be racial or ethnic diversity because it’s the one we hear about most. But is having people from different races the only way to create diversity? What about socio-economic, religious, gender, age, political and geographic diversity? Do your students think those are important too? Using the type of diversity they mention, write a definition on the board.

Using the definition of diversity they come up with, ask your students if they think their school is diverse. They may say it’s not because most of the students come from the same neighborhoods, are the same race and have the same economic backgrounds. Or they may feel it is diverse because there are racial, religious, geographic and other types of diversity. How do they feel about the amount of diversity? Do they wish there was more, or that students from different backgrounds interacted with each other more?

Have your students read Casey’s story “Diversity is more than race” on pages 10-11.

After reading the story, ask students to make a list of all the ways Casey has learned about others.

• She went to bat mitzvahs and a Chinese New Year celebration, where children got envelopes with money inside to teach them patience and saving.
• Her best friend liked video games so they played together, showing her that her stereotypes about video game players were wrong.
• She attended her school’s diversity retreat, where students talked about ways they’ve been stereotyped and what makes them different from each other.
• She’s gone to assemblies in which clubs teach students about other races, cultures and sexual orientations.
• She attends L.A. Youth meetings where she meets students from schools all across the county.
• She attended a summer program at Northwestern University where she met students from other states who had different political views from hers.
• She’s gotten involved in activities at her school, like newspaper, soccer and a community service club.

What activities are your students involved in? They may mention clubs, sports, jobs, extracurriculars or summer programs. Do those activities allow them to meet people who have different views, backgrounds or experiences than them, or who live in different parts of the city? What have they learned about other people and the world from meeting new people? Casey liked learning from others because she thought it made life more interesting. Do they agree with Casey that diversity is valuable?

Extension activity:
After reading Casey’s story about what she’s done to meet people who are different from her, and talking about the activities they’re involved in, ask them what else they could do to learn about others. Have them write down a goal and list the steps they can take to achieve it.