Laila and her friend Cathleen were hanging out in the courtyard at Galileo Academy of Science & Technology, talking about shopping to blow off steam after their sixth-period math test. It was a cool December day in San Francisco, and Laila remembers wanting to go inside early.
A few minutes before the bell rang to end the lunch period, Laila, a Muslim student who wears a hijab, the head scarf worn by many Muslim women, says she noticed a boy, whom she recognized but did not know, approaching them. "He walked right over to us," Laila says. "There were a lot of people standing around. He got real close, and then he just started screaming at me:
'"Her father is bin Laden! She's going to blow up the school, she's going to blow it up! She has a bomb under her sweater! Everybody run, this jihad girl is going to kill us!'"
Laila says the boy and his two friends doubled over, laughing. Other students walked quickly as they passed. "I was so mad, just so embarrassed. I wanted to spit in his face," Laila says.
Laila, who is 17 and recently graduated, says she faced this kind of harassment and discrimination at school many times over the last four years. But the bin Laden incident stuck with her because so many people witnessed it, both students and teachers, and no one did or said anything about it. (MORE)