Mira Mesa High School
A sign at Mira Mesa High School. Photo via @sdschools

A survey of Muslim students in California by the Council on American-Islamic Relations found that 56% of respondents felt unsafe, unwelcome, or uncomfortable at school because of their religious identity.

The survey of 708 students aged 11 to 18 also found that 26% reported being bullied over the past year, though an even higher percentage — 47% — reported incidents prior to the beginning of the pandemic and remote education.

It wasn’t just other students. Nearly one in four respondents reported that a teacher, administrator, or other adult at their school made offensive comments about Islam or Muslims.

“Muslim students continue to face high levels of Islamophobic bullying at school,” said Hussam Ayloush, CEO of the national organization’s California chapter. “It is disturbing that nearly one of three female respondents who wear a hijab reported their hijab was tugged, pulled, or offensively touched.”

“As students have resumed in-person learning, school districts must take proactive steps in these initial months to ensure learning environments across the state that are free from hostility and discrimination for their Muslim populations,” he added.

Tazheen Nizam, associate executive director for the San Diego chapter of CAIR, urged county school administrators and teachers to connect with her organization for help in combating Islamophobia in schools.

“Our teams can provide training, reading materials, and lesson plans that accurately portray Islam. Let us work towards a more inclusive way of learning and growth for our future leaders,” she said.

The FBI has reported a 25% increase in the number of reported hate crimes against all minority groups over the last five years.

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.