500 Area Teens Learn Latitude on Attitudes Students Discuss Variety of Prejudices
Marianna Riley Of The Post-Dispatch, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)
Student leaders from throughout the metropolitan area took a day off from school Thursday to talk - frankly and sometimes painfully - about their differences and their commonality and what they could do to fight prejudice and discrimination.
Five hundred young people from farming communities in Illinois, inner-city schools in St. Louis and large school districts in west St. Louis County, plus their teachers and sponsors, gathered at the St. Louis Symphony Community Music School in University City for the second annual Youth for Unity meeting.
Their discussion groups spilled into the Center of Contemporary Arts next door. The program was sponsored by A World of Difference Institute, the outreach and educational project of the Anti-Defamation League. In one group led by a teacher, Patricia Cole, students vented frustration over parental attitudes toward homosexuality and peers' attitudes over a friend with a deformed foot. They discussed the O.J. Simpson trials and concluded the second was as much about money as it was about race. They talked about shopping expeditions when they were treated with suspicion by store clerks and about sexism in the workplace. "I was asked to clean toilets, and a co-worker who was male was never asked," complained a girl named Megan. Appreciative laughter greeted the story of a boy named Tony about a gym class when teams were chosen by race - blacks on one, whites on another - and the two Hispanics found themselves not knowing which side to join. Loud murmurs of sympathy greeted a statement by a girl named Aysha that she felt prejudice because she did not talk in Ebonics. …