Civil rights group's survey of 600+ Muslim students shows bullying at rate twice as high as the national average

(ANAHEIM, CA, 10/30/15) – The California chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-CA) today released a new report documenting bias-based bullying of American Muslim students in California’s schools.

The report, “Mislabeled: The Impact of Bullying and Discrimination on California Muslim Students,” states that 55% of Muslim students have been subject to at least one form of religion-based bullying. This is twice as high as the national average of students reporting being bullied at school. The findings are based on a statewide survey of over 600 Muslim students, ages 11 to 18. They were asked questions about how comfortable they felt at their schools and portraying their Muslim identity in that environment, as well as their experiences with bullying and teacher discrimination.

The report found that more male students reported experiencing bullying than female students; however, the percentage of females who reported experiencing discrimination by a teacher or administrator was slightly higher. Additionally, of the female respondents who wear a hijab, the Islamic headscarf, 29% reported being offensively touched by another student, and 27% reported being discriminated by their teacher.

Furthermore, American Muslim youth identified student-teacher relations as needing improvement. Notably, the percentage of students who felt comfortable discussing Islam or Muslims in the classroom dropped from 80% in 2012 to 76% in 2014.

To obtain the full report, visit: CAIR-CA New 2015 School Bullying Report.

“Today, anti-Muslim rhetoric has become so acceptable that parents and students feel that it is a normal part of being a Muslim in America,” said Fatima Dadabhoy, CAIR-LA Senior Civil Rights Attorney and the lead author of the report. “However, this normalization causes people to forget the very real consequences that bullying and discrimination can have. A hostile learning environment not only impacts a student’s day-to-day life, but affects how they frame their identity and limits their chances of future success. We hope this report will serve as a reminder that bias-based bullying should never be tolerated especially as Bullying Prevention Month draws to a close.”


The report also shares the experiences of students on what makes them feel uncomfortable or unwelcome at school. Many of these reflections shared certain themes such as negative reactions to wearing a hijab, social ostracism, being called a terrorist, negativity from teachers, reactions to accommodation requests, and increased scrutiny on 9/11.


Additionally, the report provides recommendations on how Congress, textbook publishers, schools, and parents can work to create safe and inclusive school environments.


CAIR-CA is a chapter of CAIR, America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

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CONTACT: CAIR-LA Communications Coordinator Ojaala Ahmad, 714.776.1847,; CAIR-SD Executive Director Hanif Mohebi, 858.278.4547,; CAIR-SFBA Executive Director Zahra Billoo, 626.252.0885,; CAIR-SV Executive Director Basim Elkarra, 916.441.6269,