Recently, a New Jersey teacher allegedly removed a 2nd grade student’s hijab by force in the classroom. She is reported to have said something about how the girl’s hair was fine and that she didn’t need to cover it with the hijab, and then she pulled it off of the girl’s head, even while the child was protesting.
What on Earth gets into people that this is ever happened? It would be natural to assume that a teacher would know better than to do something like this, but apparently not. Our show has done many episodes where during “School of Fools”, we discuss outrageous actions by teachers and other school officials. It really makes you wonder how they skipped the section of training regarding cultural sensitivity.
Whether you are Muslim or not, it is obvious that the wearing of the hijab is part of their faith, and since it doesn’t impede the child’s ability to learn, interact with others in school, or perform any of the tasks they are called upon to do, it seems like nobody’s business whether she wears one or not. The absolute gall of this teacher to touch the child, much less to remove her religious head-covering, is outrageous. Just because one doesn’t follow her faith, it does not give one the latitude to disrespect her in this egregious fashion. Taking off a girl or woman’s hijab in public is like ripping off someone’s pants in the street. Just because you think that walking around in your underwear is okay, you don’t have the right to force someone else to do it, nor the right to humiliate them by forcing your will upon them.
Of course, there needs to be further investigation in this particular case, but I can’t think of any mitigating factor that would make this action ok. If the teacher doesn’t approve of the way Muslims show their faith, that teacher really needs to be taken out of the classroom and educated about the basics of cultural sensitivity, like don’t touch the students, don’t take items of clothing off of the students, don’t disrespect their religious garb, and just in general mind your own business. What if this teacher was wearing jewelry with a symbol of their religious faith around their neck, and someone else chose to snatch it off their neck? That would be rude to anyone, but even that doesn’t go far enough to explain the problem, because snatching a chain off of someone’s neck doesn’t offend their god like the lack of a head covering does. Many religions require the believer to wear head coverings, so it’s not like this is some strange idea the teacher had never come in contact with before.
It seems obvious that the teacher needs to be taken out of the classroom, and the girl should receive counseling so she isn’t afraid of teachers disrespecting her like that again.