Magazine article USA TODAY

Cultivating Friendships through Diversity

Magazine article USA TODAY

Cultivating Friendships through Diversity

Article excerpt

A racially diverse student body in American high schools may not result in more friendships among students of different races, according to a study by James Moody, assistant professor of sociology, Ohio State University, Columbus. Results showed teens tend to choose same-race friends, even as the opportunity to select from different races increases. However, school practices regarding academic tracking, extracurricular activities, and student mixing by grade can help promote friendships among students of different races.

The study suggests that schools interested in promoting substantive racial integration should encourage activities that help students of different races to work together. "True integration takes more than just having people of different races in a school," Moody stresses. "What really matters isn't the mix of students as much as what the schools do with the mix of students." He indicates that schools should try to ensure that extracurricular activities include students from all races; that students aren't "tracked" into separate academic programs based on race; and that grade levels are segregated so they are more likely to mix with those in their own grade.

Each participant in the study was asked to identify up to 10 friends (five male and five female) from his or her school. On average, the odds of a teen naming someone of the same race as a friend were about twice those of naming a friend from a different race, after accounting for the number of students of different races in a school and, therefore, the opportunities for cross -race friendship. …

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