A Tennessee Muslim student was expelled from Murfreesboro’s Georgia Career Institute (GCI) for wearing a hijab, HuffPost reports.
Civil rights group Muslim Advocates sent a letter to GCI requesting both a refund of Linde McAvoy’s tuition and a clear modification to its dress code. The school’s handbook currently provides no specifications toward head coverings and suggests students dress "professionally" in all-black.
According to McAvoy, she was dressed in black slacks, a black shirt and a black hijab when President Joyce Meadows removed her from classes and sent her home with a notice the 21-year-old would need to provide a note confirming her hijab was being worn for religious reasons.
McAvoy has refused to turn over confirmation and questions why she would be ejected from her classes for practicing her faith.
“I was expelled in a public space,” McAvoy told HuffPost. “It made the environment feel very hostile. It was pretty intimidating to have to choose [between] the career I’m trying to pursue and do for the rest of my life versus the religion that I’m following and hold dear to me and want to do well it. I definitely felt targeted.”
Meanwhile, Meadows ensures “staff, students and graduates represent every possible cultural, racial and religious group. No one has ever been expelled from the Institute for requirements of a religion.”
Meadows was unable to comment further due to the Family Educational Rights Act, which protects students’ privacy and records. McAvoy’s lawyers are pushing forward, seeking a full-tuition refund and staff anti-discrimination training.
“It is illegal to discriminate against Muslim women who want to wear the hijab. It is unjust to do so. Wearing a hijab isn’t somehow in opposition to receiving an education or growing your career,” Nimra Azmi, a staff attorney at Muslim Advocates, told HuffPost. “All women should have the opportunities regardless of how they dress themselves in accordance to their faith.”
In 2015, former Wheaton College professor Larycia Hawkins was suspended for posting a photo of herself online wearing a hijab in solidarity with Muslims. She had recently become the first Black woman to earn tenured status at the school.
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