Discrimination from a teacher of any type makes it difficult for your child to succeed academically. If you are a member of a religious group, such as Islam, that your child’s teacher doesn’t seem to care for, you have some options to make sure your child is treated fairly at school.
1.) Document any discriminatory statements or actions that you witness or hear about from your child. Try to find out the particulars of the situation from others who saw or heard the incident occur if you are hearing the about it only from your child to ensure you have all the objective information you need. Take the documentation to your child’s school’s administration to see what they can do to help you.
2.) Request that your child be moved to a different classroom after you have documented the incidents. This might be a last resort if a meeting with the teacher and administration does not clear up any potential misunderstandings about a supposedly discriminatory statement or action.
3.) Talk to the teacher directly. Many times, having a frank discussion can be the key to breaking down barriers. Misconceptions and stereotypes are best dealt with in a calm, but clear manner.
4.) Talk to the school about having some sort of presentation, cultural/religious fair, or guest speaker that can help explain to students about your religion. Invite other religious groups to participate, and encourage staff, faculty, and students to get involved. Expand the program to include discussion about discrimination in general, why it is not okay, and what to do if students witness it.
5.) Encourage your child to talk with you about your religion, its beliefs, any discrimination or bullying they witness because of it (or because of any other reason, such as disability or skin color). This promotes open communication between you to help solve any potential problems with a biased teacher.
6.) Act on reports of religious discrimination immediately when you hear about them. Get other parents on board with you to demonstrate strength in numbers and a united front to combat religious intolerance in schools.
Your child deserves to attend school in a safe, peaceful environment, regardless of their religious beliefs, and, with decisive action to stop religious discrimination from teachers before it gets out of hand, you can protect your child and others like them
L. Hughes-Page, M.Ed.
L. Hughes Page is a Field Supervisor to student teachers in the Graduate Department of Education at Gwynedd Mercy University.