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CAIR Offers Diversity Training for Virginia School District After Muslim Students Harassed Over Hijab

CAIR National logo(WASHINGTON, D.C., 6/3/2017) — The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today offered diversity training for administrators at Prince William Country Public Schools (PWCS) in Virginia following an incident in which two Muslim students were reportedly harassed by school officials because of their Islamic head scarves, or hijab.

The Muslim students at Freedom High School in Woodbridge, Va., say they were approached by a school administrator June 1 and told they needed a note from a parent to prove they were wearing hijab for religious reasons. When they objected, they were sent to the principal’s office and then dismissed from school for the day.

PWCS later issued a statement of apology stating in part:

“The request was inconsistent with the PWCS commitment to diversity and religious freedom, and we apologize to anyone it may have offended. . .This situation spotlights a regrettable inconsistency between our official policies and beliefs, and the reality of how things are sometimes done.”

“As PWCS admits, there is a disparity between actual district policies on diversity and religious freedom and how those policies are implemented,” said CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper. “We can offer district officials training designed to ensure a welcoming learning environment for Muslim students.”

A study by CAIR’s California office reported that 55 percent of American Muslim students attending California public schools experience some form of bullying based on their religious identity. That is twice as high as the national statistic for students who report being bullied at school.

That study also indicated that 20 percent of Muslim students say they have experienced discrimination by school staff.

CAIR 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.

The Washington-based civil rights and advocacy organization urges community members to report any bias incidents to police and to CAIR’s Civil Rights Department at 202-742-6420 or by filing a report at: http://www.cair.com/report      

CAIR is 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.

La misión de CAIR es mejorar la comprensión del Islam, fomentar el diálogo, proteger las libertades civiles, capacitar a los musulmanes estadounidenses, y construir coaliciones que promuevan la justicia y la comprensión mutua.         

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CONTACT: CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, ihooper@cair.com

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