San Diego Unified School District administrators and teachers will have calendars showing Islamic holidays, students will learn more about the religion in social studies classes and safe places will be created on campuses for Muslim students as part of a multi-tiered approach to combat Islamophobia.Trustees on Tuesday voted 4-0, with board member Michael McQuary absent, to approve a plan to confront Islamophobia and bullying against Muslim students.Stan Anjan, executive director of Family and Community Engagement at the district, said elements of the plan will be laid out before the end of the school year with a goal of having it in place at the start of the fall semester.“It’s more of a comprehensive program, not just a curriculum,” he said. “We’re looking at it from a very integrated and holistic approach.”One of the first steps in the plan will be to distribute letters to staff members and parents addressing Islamophobia and identifying resources to learn about the religion and fight discrimination. District calendars will be reviewed to ensure Islam holidays are recognized, which Anjan said is important so schools will schedule campus events that also can be attended by Muslim families.Schools also will review and vet materials related to Muslim culture and history in media centers and provide resources and material for teachers.Anjan said social studies lessons may include more information on prominent Muslims and their impact on history and other steps to promote a more positive image of Islam.
Looking back to November 2015, Superintendent Cindy Marten said Tuesday that the issue of Islamophobia is even more important today.The district doesn’t have data on how many students are Muslim, but Anjan’s report to the board Tuesday included a breakdown of incidents of bullying for various reasons from July 1 to Dec. 31, 2016.The report showed seven bullying incidents because of religion, although it did not specific the faith. There were 36 reports were bullying because of race, the largest category, followed by 21 for sex, 11 for LGBTQ identity and seven for disabilities.
“If we do this right, San Diego Unified School District would be the leading school district in the nation to come up with a robust and beautiful anti-bully and anti-Islamophobic program. I’m really happy we’re going toward the right direction. I am excited, but also careful and cautious because the work ahead is something we will all be responsible for.”