40% of Muslim students in California experience bullying and discrimination

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has published a new report documenting shocking faith-based bullying and discrimination of Muslim students in California schools.

CAIR’s report reveals that Muslim students are bullied at more than twice the rate of the national statistic.

The report, “Singled Out: Islamophobia in the Classroom and the Impact of Discrimination on Muslim Students,” is based on findings from a statewide survey of approximately 1,500 Muslim students between the ages of 11 and 18.

Forty per cent of respondents reported being bullied for being Muslim, which is double the national statistic for students being targets of school bullying.

More female students reported experiencing bullying, with 44% of female respondents reporting being bullied compared to 37% of male respondents.

The data also revealed that high school-age student respondents were bullied at a higher rate than lower grades, with 48% of 12th-grade respondents reporting being bullied, the highest rate based on age/grade.

On the other hand, 72% of Muslim students reported feeling comfortable letting others know they were Muslims; and 70% of respondents felt safe, welcomed and respected in their schools.

Anoosh Ali, 18, a first-year student at Sierra College, said: “I was in second grade when I first decided to wear a headscarf. Three days after my decision, a classmate attacked my new appearance by implying that I was connected to Osama Bin Laden. I returned to school four days later without my headscarf, fearing judgment in a place that should have been welcoming.

“It took me 10 years to get over the shattering effects that bullying had. 10 years. I am one of many, but one of very few who decided to share my story. We need to take action to eliminate these stories entirely.”

Patricia Shell, the lead editor of the report, said: “Muslim students still report bullying at alarmingly high rates, and there is a need to continue to advocate for students at the federal, state and district levels, so that everyone has uninterrupted access to their education, regardless of their religion or background.”

Dustin Johnson, a civil rights attorney, added: “While there has been a modest decline in bullying experiences reported by Muslim students, our new report shows that we have a long way to go make our schools safe and inclusive places for Muslim children, among others.

“It’s shameful that nearly 1/3 of the Muslim children surveyed have heard offensive comments about Islam or Muslims in general from the teachers, administrators or other adults who are entrusted by our community to nurture and protect them.”

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