MASON, Ohio – It took less than a full day for Mason High School principal Mindy McCarty-Stewart to realize that it was a bad idea to encourage students to wear a Muslim hijab to school for a “Covered Girl Challenge.”
Parents of students at Mason High School received a letter recently that read:
“Mason High School is blessed to have a unique and diverse student body. In order celebrate this diversity and promote open mindedness, the Muslim Student Association is inviting all female students to participate in ‘A Covered Girl Challenge’ which will allow students to wear a headscarf for the whole school day. Afterwards, there will be a discussion (open for all students, male & female) held in Z223 to share experiences and reflections,” Jihadwatch.org reports.
“In order to participate, students and/or parents should attend the informational meeting offered and turn in the attached permission slip to Student Activities or Mrs. Jenkin’s room in Z223.”
The event, of course, sparked outrage among parents for many reasons, chief among them is the lack of similar events centered around other religions. The issue was quickly highlighted by JihadWatch, which pointed out not only the April 23 event’s one-sided, positive portrayal of the Muslim tradition, but also the countless women who are persecuted around the world by their own families for not wearing a hijab.
“… I am looking forward to Mason High’s Uncovered Girl Challenge, in honor of Aqsa Parvez, whose Muslim father choked her to death with her hijab after she refused to wear it; and of Amina Muse Ali, a Christian woman in Somalia whom Muslims murdered because she wasn’t wearing a jijab …” Jihad Watch’s Robert Spencer wrote.
“When is their day? When will anyone stand in solidarity with them? Women who don’t wear hijab in Muslim countries are far more likely to be victims of violence than hijabis in the West. Who speaks for them?” he questioned. “When is A Cross-Wearer’s Challenge day at Mason High? When is A Yarmulke Wearer’s Challenge day at Mason High? Or is it only Islam that gets this treatment?”
Spencer encouraged his readers to contact McCarty-Stewart to “politely and courteously ask her why Islam is being accorded this special treatment, what observances she has planned to honor Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism and Buddhism, and how she plans to alert students to the all-too-common oppression of women who don’t wear headscarves in Muslim countries.”
The call to action apparently resonated with a lot of folks, who flooded the school with calls and emails that eventually convinced the principal that the “Covered Girl Challenge” was probably not the best idea, the Cincinnati Enquirer reports.
McCarty-Stewart said it was all a big misunderstanding. The email sent by school officials from the Students Activity Department made it seem as though the school endorsed the event, when in reality it was a student-led endeavor, she claims.
“This communication should not have come from our Student Activities Department because this was a student-led initiative, rather than a school-sponsored activity,” she announced in an email Thursday night. “We will put procedures in place in the future that ensure that any communication from a school email is for a school-sponsored event, and not merely supported by a student group.
“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,” she wrote.
“After much consideration and after talking with the student event organizers, we have cancelled the event.”
Mason City Schools officials did not respond the Enquirer’s request for comment.