Muslim girl faces discrimination in Florida high school
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Muslim girl faces discrimination in Florida high school

Tampa : FL : USA | Sep 01, 2009 at 6:59 PM PDT
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Heather Lawrence was enraged that one of her Muslim peers at Springstead High School in Florida refused to stand up during the Pledge of Allegiance. When Heather later saw the girl standing in a hallway wearing a hijab, she told her she should stand for the pledge next time, and "take that thing off her head and act like she's proud to be an American."

School administrators responded to Heather's behavior by suspending her for five days. Her parents were not too pleased with the school's decision. In fact, they stood by their daughter's action.

"You have someone in the states who is able to enjoy our educational and health care systems, yet it's okay for them to be disrespectful, and it's not okay for my daughter to speak her mind," said Mark Lawrence, Heather's father. "That's her First Amendment right. That's freedom of speech."

However, Mark Lawrence failed to see the hypocrisy in his own statement. If the Muslim girl did not want to stand up for the Pledge of Allegiance, she is practicing her First Amendment right by not doing so. That can also be considered freedom of speech.

In addition, Mark's ignorance is evident when he assumes the girl is not an American. The fact that she is wearing a hijab does not mean she just flew in to the United States last week. She could have been born and raised in the U.S for all he knows.

To clarify, school administrators did not punish Heather for demanding that the Muslim student stand during the pledge. She was punished for making racially insensitive and discriminative comments to the Muslim girl.

Heather dug herself into an even deeper hole when she tried to explain her behavior. According to one school staffer, the 16-year-old plans on enlisting in the Army next summer. When the staffer asked her why she confronted the Muslim girl, she said that the Muslim student "looks Middle Eastern" and that makes her an enemy because "all Iraqis are Middle Eastern."

Heather denies saying or feeling that way. After she served her first day of suspension, she admitted that her comment about the Muslim girl's hijab was "over the edge," and that she did not mean to bash the girl's religion. Her father agreed.

School administrators at Springstead High handled the situation perfectly. They demonstrated that they will not tolerate discrimination or racial hate among their students. Muslims have faced a disgusting amount of discrimination in the U.S since 9/11, and it is good to know that some of the country's public schools take steps in changing that.

UPDATE:

Turns out Heather Lawrence is a liar after all. According to TampaBay.com:

"The JROTC member at Springstead High School who said she confronted a Muslim student last week because the girl did not stand for the Pledge of Allegiance fabricated that part of the story, school officials said Monday."

The Muslim student's homeroom teacher says the girl did stand for the pledge.

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Muslim girl faces discrimination in Florida high school
Muslim girl faces discrimination in Florida high school
RaulDeSouza is based in Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan, and is a Reporter on Allvoices.
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