Addressing Bullying of Muslim Students

The District recently announced an intent to take action specifically to address the bullying of Muslim students. The proposed action will be a part of the district's efforts to protect all students from bullying, intimidation, and discrimination. As we have done with other vulnerable segments of our student population, our intent in drawing attention to the bullying of Muslim students, in particular, is to raise awareness of the issue, and to promote tolerance and understanding. Because we have received a number of questions regarding the District’s intent, we have prepared answers to some of the frequently asked questions about this forthcoming initiative. 

San Diego Unified follows California state curriculum provided in the 2016 State of California History-Social Science Framework

 

Why are Muslim students getting special treatment?

Muslim students are not getting special treatment.  The District takes seriously the bullying of any student, and we have programs and procedures already in place to address bullying. The reason we are calling particular attention to the bullying of Muslim students at this time is that we have received reports from students and families who have expressed concerns about the safety of their students. We want to assure our students and families that our schools are safe places for all students. We know they cannot learn if they are afraid. This initiative to combat Islamophobia is focused on promoting awareness and understanding among students of different cultures, with the intent of eliminating the fear faced by children.

 

What do you do to protect non-Muslim students and groups from bullying?

Regarding all students, we work hard to protect students from bullying and discrimination. That is why we recently implemented an online bullying reporting mechanism to allow students to make their voices heard without fear. Our anti-bullying program has assigned staff and serves students and other departments through trainings, curriculum review and other activities. Our work to protect Muslim students is not a separate effort but, rather, encompassed within these existing programs. 

 

How much will this cost?

It is too early to say whether there will be any additional cost. At this point, we have not added any staff to our anti-bullying program; which may be necessary due to the increase in bullying reports. Any changes to the anti-bullying program will be laid out before the end of the school year with a goal of having it in place at the start of the fall semester.

 

How much money is going to CAIR?

None. The Council on Islamic Relations (CAIR) has been very generous in offering its time, advice and guidance to the district on ways to prevent bullying against Muslim students. However, they have not been paid, nor do we intend to contract with CAIR. The District’s anti-bullying program has been developed and implemented by District staff.

 

Are you implementing Sharia law?

No. Sharia law is a body of religious law forming part of the Islamic tradition. It is derived from the religious precepts of Islam, particularly the Quran and the Hadith. The District does not implement, teach, or promote adherence to religious law of any kind.

 

Does this violate the separation between church and state?

No. San Diego Unified does not promote nor teach any religion. San Diego Unified follows California state curriculum provided in the 2016 State of California History-Social Science Framework, which includes discussion of world religions in the context of world history. We welcome all students from all faiths within our school community. 

 

What calendar will feature Muslim holidays?

The district maintains a calendar to share parent meeting information: https://www.sandiegounified.org/calendar . At the time, it does not contain holidays related to any faith. Our plan is to add major holidays for all faiths to help principals and individual school communities plan events at times that are least disruptive to the populations they serve, and to encourage maximum participation. It will be a resource to assist schools — not an advertisement or promotion of any religious holiday. 

 

Will children get Muslim holidays off?

No.

 

Are you endorsing Islam?

No. Again, Islam is discussed in the context of its impact on world history. We do not teach or promote Islam or any other religion.

 

What does it mean that Muslim students will have safe spaces on campus?

We believe all our schools should be safe places for all our students. In this context, we mean our Muslim students should be able to attend school without fear of bullying.

 

Why partner with CAIR?

Because CAIR has broad reach, it was helpful to have input on what the specific concerns of our Muslim community are and on what actions might serve to address those concerns. That has been the extent of our partnership. CAIR has not contributed to our curriculum.