Anaheim, CA: In an effort to proactively engage with educational institutions, the Council on American-Islamic Relations of the greater Los Angeles Area (CAIR-LA) Feb 5 announced that it had sent copies of its report, “ Mislabeled: the Impact of School Bullying and Discrimination on California Muslim Students ” to 70 elementary, middle, and high school principals in the San Bernardino City Unified School District (SBCUSD) to help school administrators deal with the rising level of Islamophobia being experienced by students.
This action comes in conjunction with the US Department of Education (DOE) urging schools to do what they can to ensure “schools and institutions of higher education are learning environments in which students are free from discrimination and harassment based on their race, religion, or national origin.”
In a letter addressed to SBCUSD school principals, CAIR-LA Senior Civil Rights Attorney Fatima Dadabhoy and author of the CAIR-CA school bullying report, wrote: “ As you are likely aware, bullying and discrimination at schools are very serious problems that can have a lifelong impact on victimized students. Students who face bullying and discrimination are at risk of feeling marginalized, disempowered, and of internalizing the negative stereotypes directed at them. Along with government, community groups, and parents, schools play an important role in creating hate-free environments where students feel safe and can focus on learning.
“I would like for this report to serve as a resource to schools by providing information on the experiences of Muslim students and the potential consequences of Islamophobia in the school environment.”
The report states that 55% of Muslim students have been subjected to at least one form of religion-based bullying. This is twice as high as the national average of students reporting being bullied at schools. The report also shares the experiences of students on what makes them feel uncomfortable or unwelcome at school. Many of these reflections shared certain themes such as negative reactions to wearing a hijab, social ostracism, being called a terrorist, negativity from teachers, reactions to accommodation requests, and increased scrutiny on 9/11. Recommendations are also provided on how Congress, textbook publishers, schools, and parents can work to create safe and inclusive school environments.
CAIR-LA has seen an increase in the number of cases reported involving discrimination and bullying of Muslim students since the tragedy of the San Bernardino shootings.
Click here to view the online version.