Lesson 6

Diversity and Tolerance


Lesson Goal:

To promote the practice of acceptance and respect among all participants.


Lesson Objectives:

  • Define diversity.
  • Describe some of the consequences of an intolerant society.
  • Understand why it is important to accept differences.


Content Standards Addressed:

Common Core State Standards

National Standards

Diversity means variety. Diversity tolerance can be described as embracing and accepting a variety of people.

The United States is considered a "tossed salad," because people from many different cultures live here. The history of the United States shows we have not always widely embraced diversity. Not embracing people's differences can result in an intolerable society of hate and violence. Embracing differences makes for a more colorful and knowledgeable society.


Some of the results of an intolerant society include:

  • Hate crimes - cross burning, vandalism.
  • Segregation/isolation - not including a type of group based on particular differences.
  • Bigotry - the state of mind of a person who is only interested in his/her own opinions and prejudices.
  • Prejudice - attitudes based on stereotypes (an exaggerated or inaccurate generalization used to describe all members of a group of people).
  • Ignorance - the condition of being uneducated, unaware and uninformed.
  • Racism - belief that one's own race is superior and other races are inferior, less intelligent, less moral, etc.
  • Inequality.

Respect is vital when dealing with diversity. Showing respect for someone else does not mean that a person has to agree with everything that someone else does or says, but it shows that they are willing to accept those differences as part of who that person is. A tolerant society makes for less violence and more productivity.​

Uniquely You!

Each person is unique. Each person has their own set of interests, skills, experiences and characteristics. People come in all shapes and sizes, all colors, creeds and religions. Because each person is unique, when people work together they can be very creative and productive.



Icebreaker/Introduction to the Topic

1. Have each student write down a situation where they discriminated against or have treated someone badly because they were different.

2. Have each participant write down a time when they were discriminated against or were treated badly because they were different from someone else.

3. Discuss the effects of these behaviors on the participants and other people involved. Did conflict ensue because of the discrimination?


What Diversity Means to You

1. Have the participants write a short one-page essay on what diversity means to them.


Cultural Background

1. Explain to the participants that everyone has their own cultural background consisting of traditions, beliefs and values.

2. Have the participants do a project on their cultural background to report to the class. They may bring in an ethnic dish, discuss holidays they celebrate or talk about the roots of their unique cultural background.


Diversity Discussion

1. Help students understand the beauty of differences and incredible similarities that exist among people. Lead a group discussion. Use these prompts to start your discussion.

  • List ways in which people are the same.
  • List ways in which people are different.
  • How can people be similar but not the same?
  • Can all differences between people be seen from the outside?
  • Why is it important to have different types of people work together?
  • If we were all the same, what kind of world would it be?
  • How can we treat people who might be different than us?

2. Conclude on a positive note by summarizing the thoughts collected during the discussion.


Leader's Fast Facts:

1. According to FBI statistics, 40 percent of bias crimes target blacks and 13 percent are anti-white, but the greatest growth in hate crimes in recent years is against Asians and homosexuals.

2. Every hour someone commits a hate crime.


Additional Resources:

Hate Hurts: How Children Learn and Unlearn Prejudice. By Caryl Stern-LaRosa and Ellen Hofheimer Bettmann. Scholastic, Inc., 2000.

www.splcenter.org - The Southern Poverty Law Center website has resources for teachers as well as students on intolerance and hate. This is a very resourceful site. ​