(SANTA CLARA, CA, 12/19/13) - The California chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-CA) today released a first-of-its-kind report documenting bias-based bullying of American Muslim students in that state's schools.
The new report, "Growing in Faith: California Muslim Youth Experiences with Bullying, Harassment and Religious Accommodation in Schools," reveals that nearly half of Muslim students say they have been subjected to some form of bias-based bullying. The findings are based on a statewide survey of almost 500 Muslim students, ages 11 to 18.Theywere asked questions about their relationships with peers and teachers, as well as their comfort levels participating in discussions about Islam and Muslims.
The report found that approximately one in five young women reported being bullied because they wore an Islamic headscarf (hijab) to school. Additionally, one in five youth reported they were unsure of participating in classroom discussions in which Islam or Muslims are discussed and were unsure of whether teachers respected their religion. More than one-third of bullying victims surveyed indicated that reporting harassment incidents to school administrators was not helpful.
"Being called 'terrorist' or 'Bin laden' is still a reality for many American Muslim students," said CAIR-LA Civil Rights Manager Fatima Dadabhoy. "Throughout the course of this study, we were alarmed to find that many Muslim students didn't even deem this as a form of bullying. Through this report, we hope to show that a decision to dismiss mistreatment as a natural consequence of being Muslim in America, or simply part of growing up, is unacceptable and normalizes a toxic school environment."
"Too often we find that parents and teachers don't know how to adequately address bias-based bullying of American Muslim students," said Rachel Roberts, civil rights coordinator for CAIR's Northern California offices. "We hope this report will shed light on the resources available to parents, teachers, and students in order to effectively and proactively address school bullying."
The report also shares anecdotes from CAIR-CA's case files to highlight the problems reported to the civil rights organization's offices and includes information about recent changes to the law because of high-profile cases of extreme school bullying.
Additionally, the report provides information for parents about how to request religious accommodation for their child and a list of resources that parents can use to learn more about the issues children face at school.
CAIR also offers a booklet, called "An Educator's Guide to Islamic Religious Practices," designed to help school officials provide a positive learning environment for Muslim students.
CAIR-CA is a chapter of CAIR, America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
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