The following is a letter to Guilford County Public Schools Superintendent Mo Green
First let me say that the Muslim community appreciates your efforts to educate the whole child through raising expectations, developing the arts and character-building experiences. Guilford County Schools is fortunate to have a superintendent who is skillful in the law and keenly aware of the great challenges some students face. Children are learning and graduating! Yet there is still work to do.
There is an increase in bullying against Muslims.
It appears to be coming from a lack of understanding of Islam. All Muslims do not condone terrorism any more than all Christians condone the violence against the federal building in Oklahoma. This generalization is simplistic and illogical. For the sake of criticalthinking skills and human decency, leaders and educators must work to correct this error in thinking which is hurting many innocent people.
Offering a diverse student body prepares students for life; but with this comes responsibilities: to protect, support and befriend one another. We believe that helping students and faculty build skills to enjoy and take care of a diverse community is vital to functioning effectively within a global society and economy. Good examples of protecting diversity in Greensboro are when members of the interfaith community accompany Muslim women to the grocery store and merchants from many different backgrounds look out for one another at closing time.
Everyone is hurt and diminished when bullying occurs in Guilford County Public Schools. An Iraqi family has concerns that their son feels he has to be complicit with the abuse in order to get through the day. The family is very sad because they see their son being diminished not only from the outside but also internally. Children and their families are being called terrorists. Students are reporting bullying without interventions and others are suffering in silence. Parents are concerned they are not being told the complete story.
At the most basic level, parents wants assurance that their children will be safe, physically and emotionally, at school. Would you be willing to meet with us to: hear parents’ concerns, develop a way to report bullying incidents and assure that all children who are being bullied are protected and given adequate emotional support from staff and their families?
We would like for the school to send a strong message that the T-word is not okay, to consistently correct hate speech and errors from prejudice, and to clarify that Islam is a religion. Hopefully, the facts and positive beliefs of the staff will set a tone for what will be expressed by the students.
Thank you for your leadership, expertise, and concern for all children. Together, we can make this better.
Badi Ali, president Islamic Center of the Triad