When an Ohio high school encouraged female students to take the “Covered Girl Challenge” by wearing hijabs in solidarity with Muslims, outraged parents decided to step in.
When they send their children off to school each morning, most parents assume that their young minds are learning the reading, writing, and arithmetic necessary to graduate and eventually become productive citizens. What they don’t expect is that the school would promote a particular religious ideology. However, that’s just what the parents of students who attend an Ohio high school insist happened.
At Mason High School, families received an email promoting “A Covered Girl Challenge,” which encouraged female students to wear headscarves in solidarity with their Muslim classmates. Girls were urged to don makeshift hijabs in order to cover their hair as is prescribed in the Quran.
While the school maintains that the event was intended to combat stereotypes about Muslims, some parents saw it as propaganda and indoctrination. Immediately, angry members of the community inundated the school with emails and phone calls expressing their outrage over their promotion of the hijab.
After receiving countless messages from frustrated parents, principal Mindy McCarty-Stewart decided to cancel the event and issue an apology to district families.
“The event was meant to combat stereotypes students may face when wearing head coverings,” McCarty-Stewart wrote, 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.”
Principal McCarty-Stewart explained that none of the complaints were threatening, but she thought it would be best to quell the outrage by shutting down the hijab challenge. Some of the parents felt that the event was promoting “jihad,” but she dismisses this claim.
Still, parents simply weren’t convinced. Along with others, former school board candidate Sharon Poe criticized school officials for not only promoting the event but also allowing Muslim students to have a segregated lunch hour for fasting during Ramadan.
“My belief is wearing these hijabs represents the oppression of women and Sharia law,” she 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 happened to the argument of the separation of church and state?”
The school officials reiterated that the event was student-led and not school-sponsored, but they added that MHS will limit future communication via the school email to school-sponsored events only. The challenge was sponsored by the school’s Muslim Student Association, although the email advocating for it was sent by the school’s Student Activities Department.
Although it was ultimately canceled, the event has sparked heated debate among parents on the topic of religion in schools. The majority seems to believe that religious education, whether it be Christianity or Islam, should be left up to the parents.