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Two Muslim Students Were Sent Home From School for Wearing Hijabs Without Permission Slips

Last Thursday, two Muslim students were allegedly sent home from their Virginia high school for wearing hijabs without carrying signed notes from their parents.

Hajah Bah and Fatmata Mansaray, first cousins and graduating seniors, told WJLA-TV that school administrators had required they carry the signed notes all year. Last Thursday, when Bah didn’t have the note on her, a school staffer gave her an ultimatum: “take off the hijab or go home.”

When the cousins refused, they were sent to the principal’s office and ultimately dismissed from Freedom High School for the day.

Read More: This Journalist Was Criticized for Wearing a Hijab While Reporting Nice. Here’s Her Perfect Comeback

"I was like, ‘I refuse,’” Bah said. “‘I’m not taking it off because of my religion.'"

The duo also called the incident “emotional.”

This is not the first instance where Muslim girls have been discriminated against for wearing hijabs at school. In fact, a 2015 study by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) found that 27% of California high school students who wear a hijab reported being discriminated against by their teacher.  

In 2003, the school principal at an Oklahoma school told an 11-year-old Muslim girl that she would no longer be allowed to wear her hijab to school, because it was prohibited by the school dress code.

Institute attorneys later pointed out that while the dress code prohibits "hats, caps, bandanas, plastic caps, and hoods on jackets inside the [school] building," it makes no mention of hijabs or any other kind of religious head covering.

Read More: This School in Maine Is the First to Offer Athletic Hijabs to Muslim Athletes

Regardless of that fact, the girl was suspended from school.

After moving to Nevada from Egypt in 2004, high school student Jana Elhifny was harassed by peers and called a terrorist for wearing her hijab to school. When she reached out to school officials for help, she was met by inaction.

Others have been prevented from participating in extracurricular activities like athletic events and even concerts.

Read More: These Iranian Men Are Wearing Hijabs to Fight for Gender Equality

The associate superintendent for Prince William County Public Schools, Mike Mulgrew, apologized to Bah and Mansaray’s family for last week’s incident. He told WJLA-TV that staff members should not have required the students to have notes to wear hijabs in the first place.

“I think they had a misinterpretation,” Mulgrew explained. “We used to give passes to assist students so they could carry out their prayers. Somehow that message got lost. We’re gonna fix that message and we’re gonna move on.”