A male teacher had recently relocated and had begun teaching at a local high school, where he would teach his first Muslim students. However, he would soon realize that he would struggle to handle certain situations surrounding Muslim students, a problem that had the potential to get him in serious trouble.
A Changing Environment
The area that the man had moved to was predominantly white, which had been quite a change as he was accustomed to a more ethnically diverse environment. However, the man explained that this had recently changed, and he soon found himself teaching his first Muslim students.
Nadia and Amira
The man’s first Muslim students were two young women named Nadia and Amira, cousins who studied together in the same class. The man mentioned that he thought he knew how to handle this: “I’m not well versed in religion, since my area of expertise is sciences, but I’d like to think I have some basic knowledge of how to provide religious respect.”
A Shift in the Classroom
One day, Amira was off school sick, leaving Nadia in the class without her cousin. The man was grading some homework when he glanced up and noticed that Nadia’s head covering had shifted, exposing some hair on her forehead. Not wanting to intrude on Nadia’s personal space and being a male teacher in a sensitive situation, he faced a dilemma.
Seeking Help from a Colleague
Uncertain about the best course of action, the teacher decided to approach his female colleague, Mrs. Smith, who taught next door. He discreetly entered her classroom and requested her assistance in getting Nadia to fix her head covering, knowing that she wouldn’t want to be uncovered.
A Snide Reaction
However, Mrs Smith did not react kindly to this request. When asked why he couldn’t do it, the man explained it was due to his gender. “She made a weird face at me but eventually said, ‘Fine’ and went to go help Nadia. When she returned, she was not at all polite, snapping ‘It’s fixed’ to me.”
Considering Mrs. Smith’s Anger
Despite his efforts to brush off Mrs. Smith’s anger, the man couldn’t help but wonder whether his request had been inappropriate. He decided that the best way to get to the bottom of this would be to speak to Nadia.
An Attempt at Apology
After class, the man approached Nadia and asked her to stay behind for a moment. He wanted to apologize if his actions had embarrassed her. However, Nadia reassured him that it was fine and left.
A Surprising Call
The man had assumed that the issue had been put to rest, yet later in the evening, he received an unexpected call from his boss. She informed him that Mrs. Smith had lodged a complaint regarding his unprofessional conduct concerning Nadia, and requested that he attend a meeting with Mrs. Smith, Nadia, and her parents to discuss his actions.
A Sense of Ambush
“I feel ambushed”, the man lamented. “I don’t even know what I did wrong, and I’m really upset and anxious right now”. The man felt that involving Mrs. Smith was the appropriate thing to do, and it appeared that Nadia had agreed, yet Mrs. Smith clearly did not.
In anxious anticipation of the meeting, the man headed online to seek advice from others. However, everyone comforted him. “You were just being considerate and meant well”, one commenter defended. “The only person who can tell you if you overreacted is Nadia, NOT Mrs. Smith”.
Support From the Muslim Community
The man was relieved to discover that several Muslim women chimed in, offering their reassurance. “You did nothing wrong here”, one woman responded. “As a hijabi myself, I’d much prefer if a female told me that my hair was showing over a male. You were just respecting her religion, and I applaud that!”
One Single Critic
However, there was one person who criticized the man. “I don’t get why you panicked and disrupted another class over this”, they started. “It’s Nadia’s responsibility to deal with her own religious adherence, not yours. Frankly, your behavior just seems weird. Her parents may find it invasive.”
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