Oklahoma Sixth Grader Suspended over Muslim Head Covering

October 19, 2003

Source: First Amendment Center


On October 19, 2003, the First Amendment Center published an editorial defending the right of 11-year-old Nashala Hearn to attend Oklahoma public schools wearing her Muslim head scarf, a practice that is currently banned under dresscodes designed to prevent gang activity. The author compares the incident to that of Aroniakeha Elijah, a junior at Salmon River Central School near Plattsburgh, N.Y. who was given in-school suspension last Fall for wearing a headband associated with his Iroquois religion. According to the editorial, "this controversy is about far more than headwear in public schools – it’s about what kind of nation we want to be. In France today, a Muslim girl must remove her head scarf if she wants to attend a public school. And in Germany, efforts are under way to ban the hijab from schools and the workplace... In the United States, it should be un-American to make someone take it off."