A young Muslim student from Tennessee said she was expelled from college for wearing the hijab, the Huffington Post reports.
The civil rights group ‘Muslim Advocates’ and a local law firm sent a letter to the Georgia Career Institute (GCI), demanding the college refund Linde McAvoy’s, 21, tuition fees and amend its dress code.
According to the letter, staff had told Ms McAvoy that her hijab didn’t adhere to the college’s dress code. The victim said staff members repeatedly harassed her and told her she was not allowed to wear the hijab even after she explained to the school administrators that she wore it as a part of her religious beliefs.
Nimra Azmi, a staff attorney at Muslim Advocates told the HuffPost: “It’s incredibly important for Muslim women to wear the hijab and get educated.
We don’t think those things are antithetical. We don’t think that wearing the hijab is inherently unprofessional.”
The school’s dress code policy does not prohibit religious head coverings but the only specified requirement is that students dressed “professionally” in all black attire.
Ms McAvoy said that she dressed professionally in black garments and a black hijab.
The young Muslim student also said that the college president Joyce Meadows forcibly removed her from classes and sent her home.
Ms Meadows allegedly told Ms McAvoy that if she wanted to continue to her studies at the college with the hijab, she needed to provide a note of external confirmation that she wore the hijab for religious reasons.
But Ms McAvoy refused to provide confirmation in writing because she believed she was already complying with the college dress code, which did not stipulate that students had to present any formal letter.
Ms McAvoy said: “I was expelled in a public space. It made the environment feel very hostile.
“It was pretty intimidating to have to choose [between] the career I’m trying to pursue and do for the rest of my life versus the religion that I’m following and hold dear to me and want to do well in.
“I definitely felt targeted.”
Ms Meadows told the HuffPost in a statement that the allegations against her and the college were “unfounded”.
She said that the college “staff, students and graduates represent every possible cultural, racial and religious group. No one has ever been expelled from the Institute for requirements of a religion.”
Ms Meadows added that she was not in a position to elaborate further due to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act – a federal law that protects the privacy of student records.
Ms McAvoy’s lawyers are now seeking a full-tuition refund on her behalf and an implementation of anti-discrimination training for all the staff at GCI.
Ms Azmi said: “It is illegal to discriminate against Muslim women who want to wear the hijab. It is unjust to do so.
“Wearing the hijab isn’t somehow in opposition to receiving an education or growing your career.
“All women should have the opportunities regardless of how they dress themselves in accordance to their faith.”