Kurt Streeter, Los Angeles Times, December 19, 2013
Most young Muslim students feel accepted on California junior high and high school campuses, although a significant number say they face bias from teachers and bullying from fellow students, according to a new report by a leading Islamic advocacy group.
The report, issued Thursday and based on an extensive survey by the California chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, offers a nuanced portrayal of the climate young Muslims face in California schools.
Of the nearly 500 Muslim youth surveyed across the state, about 80% gave a positive rating to their overall educational experience — noting that they were comfortable speaking about their religion in the classroom and felt safe in school and respected by teachers.
The Growing in Faith survey found, however, that significant problems remain for young Muslims.
Five percent of those surveyed said their teachers did not respect their religion; 10% reported being physically bullied, including being slapped, kicked or punched. And 17% of girls who wore the hijab, an Islamic head scarf, reported being mistreated because of their choice in clothing. Half of the survey respondents said they’d been subject to mean comments or rumors as a result of their faith.
The large positive response came “as quite a surprise,” said CAIR attorney Fatima Dadabhoy, who helped author the study. “When we started, the anecdotal evidence we’d been gathering suggested a different kind of picture.”
Dadabhoy lamented the disconnect between students who said they’d been bullied but still reported feeling accepted at school. “A lot of students are internalizing mistreatment,” she said. “More needs to be done to show our students what bullying really is.”