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Most Muslim youth in Massachusetts survey report bullying

Most Muslim youth in Massachusetts survey report bullying
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According to a report from the Massachusetts Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) released Tuesday, the majority of Muslim youth surveyed in the state report being bullied.

The CAIR-Massachusetts report surveyed 190 students in grades seven through 12 grade from July 2019 to January 2020. The majority of the students surveyed — 72 percent — were female.

In the survey, 61 percent reported being verbally insulted, abused and made fun of for being Muslim. CAIR notes that this is more than double the amount of students nationally who report being bullied.

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Out of the students who said they wore a hijab, 17 percent said that their hijab had been tugged on or offensively touched.

“I was in middle school, one guy tugged on my hijab and I was too scared to tell anyone,” one student told the organization.

The report pointed to a 14-year-old student in the Boston area who gave up wearing her hijab because of the constant harassment she was receiving at her high school.

Another student, 13, said he was targeted by other students during an assignment in which they drew him as a terrorist involved in the 9/11 bombing.

“These stories, as well as other examples included in our report, illustrate vividly the human toll of youth bullying, and the often extreme and always tragic lengths to which Massachusetts Muslim children can be dehumanized and mistreated in their learning environment,” CAIR writes.

The bullying did not appear to be limited to other students either.

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“Last year a teacher made fun of me for fasting, another teacher exclaimed that a brown student with a beard looked ‘like a terrorist,’ ” one student reported.

A third of the students surveyed said they had changed something about their appearance, name or behavior to hide the fact they are Muslim. Nearly half — 43 percent — reported seeing other Muslim students being bullied for their faith. However, the majority said they were comfortable with letting their classmates know they are Muslim.

CAIR recommended that schools adopt a curriculum that does not "lead to the otherization of Muslims."

"Being aware of and moving to eliminate bias in the classroom can promote equity, excellence and empowerment. A simple solution for educators and schools is to incorporate the lesson plans and materials created by Muslim organizations to facilitate the incorporation of curricula about Islam," CAIR wrote. "Educators should utilize specific lesson plans which address common misconceptions about Islam, the history of Muslims in U.S., Muslim contributions to civilizations and commonalities between Islam and other faiths."