At Seth Boyden Elementary School in Maplewood, New Jersey, second grader Sumayyah Wyatt’s hijab was yanked off of her head by her teacher.
The teacher allegedly told Wyatt to remove what she thought was a hooded sweatshirt, and when Wyatt denied it, she ripped it off her head.
The family reached out to the Black Parents Workshop Inc. to seek support and awareness of the situation. The Black Parents Workshop is an organization dedicated to academic success in public schools and fighting for equity amongst Black students.
“We support the call of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in demanding that the South Orange-Maplewood School District address the conduct of the student’s teacher and make certain the student is above all, protected, and provided the resources her family desires to make amends for this violation of trust and duty of care,” the organization said in a statement.
The organization is advocating for the placement of anti-racist and cultural competency training for the teachers in the district to make sure this situation doesn’t happen again and for no other child’s religious rights to be violated in the future.
IU junior Aissatou Diallo wears a hijab on a daily basis and said she sometimes feels like an outcast when wearing her hijab on campus, where she said she’s being constantly stared at. Although she hasn’t experienced any action regarding the removal of her hijab, she said she can tell that students and teachers feel intimidated by her.
“I’ve never received any comments from staff — just one teacher, in particular, assumed I was married, then asked me if my husband was the one who made all the health care decisions,” Diallo said. “It offended me because it shows how my religion is represented badly in the media. People assume women have no free will or we’re controlled by men.”
No one should have to worry about their culture or ethnicity being disrespected in a setting that is supposed to be a safe space, such as a classroom. They shouldn’t have to worry that their religious or cultural beliefs are a “distraction” to the classroom.