High School Stereotypes: Where Do We Draw the Line?

Kenzie Kidman, Writer

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When you’re little or not quite in high school, you really don’t know what to expect when you go to school. Yes, you could have older siblings going to high school that tell you about it, but if you have siblings like me, most of their stories are exaggerated to scare you. We all watch high school tv shows / movies and see how people in those shows are in different groups and how it is such a big deal to stay in those groups. But is it a big deal? Should we stay in our stereotypical groups or should we break out of them? Where do we draw the line between using stereotypes to stay comfortable and using them to potentially hurt others?

Before we get into where to draw the line, let’s talk about what I mean by stereotypes. To me a stereotype is something that is considered normal or how life’s supposed to be. At the same time it’s the standard we hold everyone to and is also the way we measure how “different” someone else is. We all know the basic high school stereotypes: Popular Kids, Jocks, Nerds, Stoners, Loners, etc. Our human nature causes us to automatically stereotype people. Maybe we don’t mean to or maybe we do but, for the most part, we do it without even noticing. Just in case you don’t think you stereotype others, take a minute and ask yourself: Have I ever not sat by someone because I thought they were trouble? Have I ever not become friends with someone because they looked like someone I wouldn’t like? Most of the time we stereotype people without even knowing it; it just becomes second nature. We also stereotype not just individuals, but large groups of people. An example of this would be the Confederate flag that kids brought to the basketball game that said “Rich Kids vs Rednecks.” It was major stereotyping that hurt a lot of people and caused a major conflict of opinions.

To answer my original question, I asked some students and faculty members their opinions about where we should draw the line:

Is stereotyping a bad thing or something that helps us stay out of bad situations?

Saylor Funk (freshmen): “It’s not necessarily a bad thing in some situations, but there is a line between looking out for your self and judging how people look.”

Where do we draw the line between being cautious and just being mean?

Warren Labrum (junior): “You should always be cautious but you can’t isolate yourself from everyone and the world or you won’t be happy.”

Is it bad to just hang out with the people we’re comfortable with in our own stereotypes, or should we try to go out of our comfort zones for the sake of diversity?

Ms. Wood (school counselor): “I believe it is not a bad thing to hang out with people we are comfortable with. It helps us feel comfortable and we can share similar interests together but I also feel like going out of our comfort zone to meet new people is also a great thing. We can make great friends and it can help us become a better version of ourselves. Some of my most influential friends were people out of my comfort zone.”

Considering these opinions, I think that the line changes depending on personal situations, but the overarching rule when dealing with stereotypes is to be cautious of people’s characters in order to protect yourself, but not to stereotype or withhold your friendship from people based on their looks, which could hurt them.

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