In yet another event aimed to “celebrate diversity,” an Ohio high school planned what it called “A Covered Girl Challenge” where female students were to have spent the day wearing a hijab.
Mason High School in southwest Ohio scheduled the event for April 23, but in response to a storm of protest, it fizzled out and died before it got off the ground, according to Cincinnati.com.
The idea was to give female students the option of wearing a hijab for the day, then set aside some time for discussion and reflection.
The event was sponsored by MHS’ Muslim Student Association, but an email promoting it came from MHS’ Student Activities Department. In her letter, McCarty-Stewart said that should not have happened.
The event was student-led rather than school-sponsored, she said, adding that MHS will put policies in place to ensure further communication from the school email account is limited to school-sponsored events.
But as word spread throughout the community, backlash to the event grew.
“My belief is wearing these hijabs represents the oppression of women and Sharia law,” former school board candidate Sharon Poe said.
“I do not recall ever getting an email announcing a Christian Cross Wearing day or a booth for information about the Christian persecution from Islamic terrorists. What happen to the argument of the separation of church and state?”
Twitter user Joe Wiesenfeld had a response to that question. He tweeted:
— Joe Wiesenfeld (@fazwiesenfeld) April 18, 2015
“The key there is, it’s student-led and student-driven,” school spokeswoman Tracey Carson said. “In this case, I think, honestly, where we messed up is because adults got too involved in this process.”
She admitted that the school has a duty to allow students to practice religion of their choice, “but at the same time, we can’t promote religion,” school spokeswoman Tracey Carson said. “I think by us having the permission slip (for the Covered Girl event), by adults having sent the email, I think we crossed that line.”
Principal Mindy McCarty-Stewart sent an apology Thursday to families in the district:
The event was meant to combat stereotypes students may face when wearing head coverings, but as the event spread beyond our school community, however, we received many strong messages that made me reconsider the event’s ability to meet its objectives.
I now realize that as adults we should have given our students better guidance. After much consideration and after talking with the student event organizers, we have canceled the event.
The event was open only to female students; there were no plans for the male students to “celebrate diversity.”
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