Teaching Students About Intolerant Statements


In today’s diverse and interconnected world, the importance of fostering tolerance and understanding among students is paramount. One key area where educators can make a difference is in addressing the presence and impact of intolerant statements – both inside the classroom and beyond. This article will explore practical strategies for teaching students about intolerant statements, equipping them with the skills to recognize, challenge, and avoid using language that perpetuates bigotry or discrimination.

Identifying Intolerant Sentences

The first step in teaching students about intolerant statements is helping them understand what they are. Intolerant sentences are statements or questions that demean or marginalize individuals or groups based on factors such as their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or disability. These instances of language can be overt (e.g., using slurs) or subtle (e.g., perpetuating stereotypes), and can manifest in both spoken and written forms.

Educators should provide examples of intolerant statements and encourage open discussions about why such language is harmful. Exploring historical events that were fueled by intolerance can serve as a powerful backdrop to these conversations.

Encouraging Empathy and Understanding

Teaching students to empathize with others different from themselves is crucial in combating intolerance. Encourage them to imagine how they would feel if someone targeted them with an offensive statement related to their identity.

Role-playing activities can be an effective tool for building empathy. Pair students together, assigning one the role of speaker and the other as listener. Provide scenarios in which the speaker uses intolerant statements, then have the listener reflect on how it made them feel before offering alternative, inclusive statements.

Challenging stereotypes

Intolerant statements often stem from unfounded stereotypes about certain groups. Present an array of examples of well-known stereotypes and engage students in discussions about their accuracy – or lack thereof. Encourage students to question and reconsider any preconceived ideas about people based on their background, identity, or beliefs.

Promoting Inclusive Language

Once students understand the pitfalls of intolerant language, shift the focus to using inclusive language. Educate them about the power of words and how they can shape perceptions, foster understanding, and promote unity.

Showcase positive examples of inclusive language in various contexts – literature, advertising campaigns, and social media posts. Encourage students to consider how they can incorporate inclusive language into their own speech and writing.

Creating Safe Spaces for Open Dialogue

Cultivate a classroom environment where students feel comfortable discussing their experiences with intolerance or addressing any use of intolerant sentences. Regularly invite students to share their thoughts and emotions on the topic without fear of judgment. Do this by establishing ground rules that stress respect, empathy, and active listening.


Teaching students about intolerant statements is a vital step towards fostering a future generation that values acceptance and inclusivity. By equipping them with the tools to recognize such language, empathize with those affected by it, challenge stereotypes, and utilize inclusive words in their own lives, educators can contribute significantly to making society more equitable for all.

Choose your Reaction!