Gee, I wonder why…is it because typical Muslim supremacist behavior, even among students, is considered to be anti-American? The U.S. Department of Education is warning school and college administrators that they must be proactive in combating discrimination against students, especially those from Syria and Middle Eastern countries and those perceived to be Muslim. Doesn’t matter if any other ethnic or religious group is bulled, I guess.
US News “A focus on these protections, while always essential, is particularly important amid international and domestic events that create an urgent need for safe spaces for students,” read a guidance letter issued Monday to school districts, colleges and universities.
“We support your efforts to ensure that young people are not subjected to discrimination or harassment based on race, religion, or national origin, particularly at this time when fear and anger are heightened, and when public debate sometimes results in the dissemination of misinformation.”
The letter comes on the heels of heightened anti-Muslim sentiment and a flurry of personal attacks, including against Sikhs, fueled in part by terrorist attacks in Paris that killed 130 and in San Bernadino, California, that killed 14 people. (Sikhs are only bullied because people think they are Muslims)
“These refugees have captivated so much attention and are fleeing precisely the type of senseless and violent attacks that have occurred here in the United States and elsewhere recently,” the letter read. “The United States must continue to welcome these refugees seeking safety and a new start in life.”
According to the Education Department, more than 4.7 million foreign-born individuals are currently enrolled in pre-kindergarten to postsecondary education, representing 6 percent of the total student population. Another 20 million students are the children of foreign-born parents.
The letter specifically calls attention to the potential mistreatment of students who are, or are perceived to be, Syrian, Muslim, Middle Eastern or Arab, as well as those who are Sikh, or students of color.
It urges administrators to be proactive in dealing with everything from name-calling to defamatory graffiti to physical violence that’s directed at students because of their actual or perceived race or ancestry, the country their family comes from, or their religion or cultural traditions.
“If ignored, this kind of conduct can jeopardize students’ ability to learn, undermine their physical and emotional well-being, provoke retaliatory acts, and exacerbate community conflicts,” the guidance letter read.
The Education Department specifically recommends that schools host classroom discussions and other activities to help students grapple with current events and conflicting viewpoints.
It also directed administrators to a document from the Department of Justice titled “Twenty Plus Things Schools Can Do to Respond to or Prevent Hate Incidents Against Arab-Americans, Muslims, and Sikhs.”
“We urge you – whether you lead a college or a pre-K-12 school – to use this moment as an opportunity to take steps that increase tolerance,” the letter read.
Notably, the letter makes clear that any action taken by schools must also preserve students’ right to free expression.
“This work is about taking thoughtful steps to create space for open and constructive dialogue, while dealing swiftly with actions that create an unlawful hostile environment,” it read.