Challenging Islamophobia in Public Schools

Published by the Islamophobia Research & Documentation Project at UC Berkeley

Challenging Islamophobia in Public Schools

May 11, 2020
Authors: Amna Salameh & Naved Bakali
Foreword: Dr. Hatem Bazian

This report aims to inform policymakers, school districts, educators, and researchers about the overall problems Muslims are facing in public schools as a result of an increase in Islamophobia and the lack of training schools are providing in dealing with this issue. In the post-Trump political context, many minorities have been marginalized and targeted, and Muslims have not been immune to this problem. Muslims in America have had a long history of being targets of discrimination and exclusion predating September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks (9/11). Through this trajectory of Islamophobia in conjunction with current affairs, Muslim students (K-12) have encountered an increased amount of bullying, discrimination, and are confronted with unsafe school environments that have affected their performance in school and impacted their mental health. The following report recommends strategies and tools to challenge anti-Muslim bias for school administrators and teachers, to help create inclusive educational spaces that promote critical thinking and empower students to be transformative leaders in the twenty-first century.

The following report examines the cycle of Islamophobia in the K-12 educational system. Beyond public hate crimes and the violation of basic human rights, Islamophobia can have traumatic and lingering effects on young Muslims in schools, leading to internalized mental health problemsThere is a rich body of literature that details how bullying, racialization, and discrimination from students and teachers has become a pervasive feature of Muslim youth experiences in American schools Howeverthese experiences are further exacerbated by negative and stereotypical depictions of Muslims embedded in educational curricula, ignorance of Islam and Muslims, and lack of teacher training. Countering Islamophobia at the pre-service level and in schools is important to stopping the cycle of Islamophobia in society. There are a number of theoretical frameworks, as well as state and federal level legislation, to draw from when combating Islamophobia and other forms of systemic racism in schools. However, there are very few examples of schools that have taken formal steps to address these issues. As such, this report details two preliminary recommendations to help address racism and Islamophobia in American schooling contexts