CAIR Condemns Maryland High School’s Failure to Protect Muslim Teen From Islamophobic Harassment

Civil Rights Group Seeks High-Priority Meeting to Discuss Family Support, Stronger Policies to Prohibit Bullying and Islamophobia Within School System 

(BALTIMORE, MD, 6/11/19) - The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today condemned a pattern of alleged negligence by Cambridge-South Dorchester High School administrators who failed to protect a Muslim teen from Islamophobic attacks by his peers that spanned the course of at least several weeks.

According to the mother, the 15-year-old freshman student - who is of Moroccan descent - has been allegedly physically and verbally assaulted and taunted with “ISIS,” “terrorist,” “suicide bomber” and other racial and religious slurs. 

CAIR is seeking a high-priority meeting with school officials, and has called on the Dorchester County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Diana Mitchell and Supervisor of Student Services Dr. James Bell to: 

1) intervene to appropriately and immediately discipline students perpetrating this abusive behavior so that it does not carry over the summer and into the next school year, and 

2) hold accountable and mandate training for school officials who have failed to address the mother’s pleas for adequate intervention and assistance to the extent where she is now fearing for her son’s mental well-being and life after a teacher discovered “potentially suicidal messages” in his notebook.

After meeting with the mother, school officials reportedly downplayed the gravity of the incidents, suggested the pattern of abuse was “friendly banter,” offered to “move the Muslim student to a different class” as part of the solution, and failed to keep the mother fully apprised of developments. 

“Schools must be safe spaces where all students are protected from harassment and intimidation,” said CAIR Director of Maryland Outreach Zainab Chaudry. “School systems have an added responsibility to provide support to marginalized students whose identities make them more vulnerable to being targets. It is unacceptable that a high school freshman may now be at risk for self-harm because of a toxic learning environment that was inadequately addressed by those in positions of authority.”

Research and studies such as a recent U.S. News report have revealed a consistently strong correlation between bias-related harassment, and depression, anxiety and risky health behaviors such as substance abuse, smoking and alcoholism. 

SEE: The Hidden Harms of Racial Bullying 
https://www.usnews.com/news/healthiest-communities/articles/2019-05-23/bullying-victims-more-likely-to-use-drugs-alcohol-analysis-shows 

CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.

La misión de CAIR es proteger las libertades civiles, mejorar la comprensión del Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a los musulmanes en los Estados Unidos.

END

CONTACT: CAIR Director of Maryland Outreach Zainab Chaudry, zchaudry@cair.com, 410-971-6062

 


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