San Diego schools combat rising Islamophobia

Responding to a rising number of bullying incidents directed at Muslim students, the San Diego Unified School District is adopting a multi-tiered approach to combatting Islamophobia.

According to the Los Angeles Times, elements of the plan include:

  • Administrators and teachers will have calendars showing Islamic holidays.
  • Students will learn more about the religion in social studies classes.
  • Safe places will be created on campuses for Muslim students.
  • Applying a restorative-justice method of discipline for students who bully Muslims, requiring them to speak with other students about the issue.

“It’s more of a comprehensive program, not just a curriculum,” said Stan Anjan, the district’s executive director of family and community engagement. “We’re looking at it from a very integrated and holistic approach.”

A 2015 report released by the Council on American-Islamic Relations found that 55% of Muslim American students surveyed in California said they had been bullied because of their religion.

WEAC and the NEA are working with members to address the issue of Islamophobia in schools. Representatives to the WEAC Representative Assembly this spring passed a New Business Item that states, in part, that WEAC “will stand against all forms of religious discrimination intended to hurt, harm or marginalize our Muslim population that will impede their educational or religious obligation.”

A 2016 article in NEA Today summarized the issue this way:

Anti-Islamic rhetoric has reached a fever pitch in America, spouting not only from presidential candidates and governors, but even from school board members, like one in Philadelphia who posted that she is “officially against Muslims” and “We don’t want them in America” on her Facebook page.

In New York, Chicago, and in Mohamed’s hometown of San Francisco, city bus ads paid for by millionaire Pamela Geller showed pictures of ISIS atrocities and proclaimed, “It’s not Islamophobia. It’s Islamorealism.”

For Muslims who ride city buses—including hundreds of school kids—the message was loud and clear: “Muslims are terrorists and must be feared.”

“It’s scary, unfair, and weird how we are in the year 2016 and people are allowed to be so openly biased and hateful,” says Mohamed Omar, 18, a senior at San Francisco’s Raul Wallenberg High School. “People look at us in a damning way. They have this image of us that’s hard to change, and it bothers me that Pamela Geller can have freedom of speech, but where is my freedom of religion?”

Read more in the Los Angeles Times:

San Diego Unified has a plan to fight Islamophobia and bullying

San Diego Unified School District administrators and teachers will have calendars showing Islamic holidays, students will learn more about the religion in social studies classes and safe places will be created on campuses for Muslim students as part of a multi-tiered approach to combat Islamophobia.

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