Friday, March 15th, 2013
Babies may prefer to be around individuals who pick on, or even mildly bully, members of a group who are different in some way from the others. Researchers at Yale University and the University of British Columbia have determined their findings based on a study of babies who were observing puppets, beans, and balls. The results may help scientists better understand the roots of violence and discrimination, the Boston Globe reports:
Led by scientists at Yale University and the University of British Columbia, the researchers posed a complicated social scenario to 9-month-old and 14-month-old babies: If they saw a rabbit puppet who was either similar or different from them in some fundamental way—in this case, preferring graham crackers or green beans—would they care how others treated the rabbit?
The researchers already knew two basic things about the choices and preferences of infants. Just like adults, who tend to like people who are similar to them, babies are drawn to others who share their tastes in food and toys. Hollywood movies leverage our impulse to cheer for do-gooder heroes over villains; babies similarly prefer a character that helps someone else climb a mountain rather than pushing them down it, a previous study had shown.
But would babies always, universally, prefer heroes to villains? Or would their preference depend on who was being helped or hindered? The researchers wondered: would they see the enemy of their enemy as a friend?
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“I was surprised, and my liberal bleeding heart sunk like a stone, when we found them actually choosing, really robustly, the puppet who punishes” the rabbit puppet that did not share the baby’s preference, said Karen Wynn, a professor of psychology and cognitive science at Yale and senior author of the work, published in the journal Psychological Science.
Image: Rabbit puppet, via Shutterstock
Thursday, February 28th, 2013
A first-grade Colorado child who was born a boy but identifies as a girl is the subject of a discrimination complaint filed by the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund. Last December, Eagleside Elementary School decided that first-grader Coy Mathis was no longer allowed to use the girl’s bathroom, prompting the complaint. More from CNN:
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Mother Kathryn Mathis said she and her husband were shocked.
“We were very confused because everything was going so well, and they had been so accepting, and all of a sudden it changed and it was very confusing and very upsetting because we knew that, by doing that, she was going to go back to being unhappy,” she told CNN. “It was going to set her up for a lot of bad things.”
Coy was born with male sex organs but has identified as female since she could express herself, her mother said. The child had attended classes during her kindergarten year with no problems and no complaints from anyone at the school, Mathis told reporters at the Colorado Capitol in Denver, where she was flanked by her husband, Jeremy, and four other children.
Thursday, September 6th, 2012
A California couple says their 16-year-old son wasn’t allowed to board a plane last weekend because airline employees described him as a “flight risk.” But Joan and Robert Vanderhorst believe they were actually removed from the American Airlines flight from Newark, New Jersey to Los Angeles because employees did not want their son Bede, who has Down Syndrome, to sit in first class. The New York Daily News reports:
Bede and his parents had been in Jackson, N.J., visiting family and were eager to make the long return flight home. On a “lark” they had even upgraded their seats to first class, shelling out an extra $625 dollars.
“My wife said, ‘oh Bede’s never flown first class,’ he’ll be so excited.”
Vanderhorst said Bede, a freshman in high school, has flown “at least 30 times” through his life and has never caused any trouble.
Nothing was different before Sunday’s flight, he said. Bede was sticking close to his parents and was not acting unruly, nor was he upset.
But as the family waited to board, an American Airlines official pulled them aside and said the pilot had observed Bede and didn’t feel safe allowing him on the plane.
The airline told the Daily News that Bede was “agitated” in the waiting area. “Asking the family to take the next flight was a decision that was made with careful consideration and that was done based on the behavior of the teen,” the airline said. The family was escorted away from the gate by police, and rebooked on a United Airlines flight. Bede’s parents are considering a lawsuit accusing the airline of violating the teen’s civil rights and the Americans With Disabilities Act.
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Wednesday, July 6th, 2011
The Mortgage Guaranty Insurance Corporation (MGIC), the nation’s largest mortgage insurance company, is facing a Justice Department law suit because of the company’s requirement that women return from paid maternity leave before mortgages will be approved and insured. The case refers to loan customers who are seeking to borrow more than 80 percent of their home’s value, a situation in which most mortgage lenders require mortgage insurance.
The suit was filed in Pennsylvania on July 5. It falls under the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discrimination in housing and mortgage lending based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability and familial status.
“No woman should be denied the opportunity to receive a mortgage loan simply because she has just given birth,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division in a statement.. “Our nation’s fair housing laws prohibit this kind of discrimination, and the Justice Department is committed to aggressive enforcement of those laws.”
“It defies belief that, in 2011, any institution would discriminate against a mother for legally and properly taking leave after the birth of a child,” said U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania David Hickton. “My office will not stand idly by while parents suffer discrimination in lending simply for taking maternity or paternity leave.”
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