New Survey Reveals Nearly Half Of Muslim Students Report Being Bullied At Dallas-Fort Worth Area Schools

Supermajority Education Fund

March 3, 2020

A new report by the Council of American Islamic Relations (CAIR) found that 48 percent of Muslim American students in the Dallas-Fort Worth area of Texas say they’ve been bullied at school — a rate that is almost double the national average. The researchers also revealed that nearly one in four Muslim American students in these schools faced cyberbullying related to their identities, and over a third said they were hesitant to participate in discussions about Islam or current events in class.

Girls who wear the hijab — a traditional head covering — also reported feeling singled out and harassed specifically because of their attire choices. Nearly 1 in 7 of the girls surveyed said their hijabs have been pulled, tugged, or otherwise touched while they were in school.

CAIR-DFW’s executive director Faizan Syed said in a statement that the findings of the report — in which 321 students between the ages of 11 and 18 who attended both public and private non-Islamic schools were anonymously surveyed — provided a look at the challenges Muslim American kids and teens face in schools each day. “American Muslim students, like all students, should be given the opportunity to thrive in their learning environment,” he said. “Bullying undermines that environment and the feeling of inclusion.”

While CAIR’s latest survey concentrated on students living in Dallas-Fort Worth, bullying in schools is a “multi-tiered issue” that young Muslims face nationwide, Rider University professor Nadia S. Ansary told Supermajority News. Ansary was a member of the New Jersey Commission on Bullying in Schools in 2008 and has researched youth who experience anti-Muslim bullying extensively. “Muslim children often feel singled out,” both by their fellow students and by teachers, she said. “Some felt they were forced to be the representative of their faith, which is a lot of responsibility for a child.”

Ansary added that more needed to be done to protect all students who chose to wear articles of faith, not just those who wear the hijab. “For any religious minority in the US, the wearing of religious symbols puts them at risk for being bullied,” she said. “We see this in the Jewish community, we see this in the Sikh community, and we see this in the Muslim community.”

Both the authors of the CAIR survey and Ansary note that American schools are a reflection of the United States as a whole. A recent Washington Post article found that anti-Latino, anti-immigrant, and anti-Muslim bullying has been on the rise since the 2016 presidential campaign.

“Schools are a microcosm of our society,” said Ansary. This means that educators and families have to address bullying and stereotyping head-on. “Children come to school influenced by their parents and the conversations that are had while shopping, in the car, and over dinner.”