Another effort at a taxpayer-funded American high school to persuade female students — but only female students — to wear Muslim headscarves has failed disastrously.
The scene of the hijab hurly burly this time is Mason High School in a pleasant, family-friendly suburb of Cincinnati.
A now-cancelled event called “A Covered Girl Challenge” had been scheduled for Thursday, April 23, reports The Cincinnati Enquirer.
The intent of the Covered Girl Challenge was to celebrate diversity and “promote open mindedness,” explained a letter the school sent to parents.
“[T]he 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,” the letter explained, according EAGnews.org.
Female students who wanted to participate were supposed to have their parents fill out a permission slip and return it to the high school office or “Mrs. Jenkin’s room in Z223.”
Mrs. Jenkins appears to be Caryn Jenkins, a social studies teacher at Mason High.
Local backlash against a public-school event endorsing Muslim religious tradition was swift and strong.
Some critics said the event could be construed as mocking Muslims — the way it wouldn’t be quite right for a student to wear the habit of a Catholic nun, for example.
Other critics noted that the Covered Girl Challenge amounts to an endorsement of Islam.
“I do not recall ever getting an email announcing a Christian Cross Wearing day or a booth for information about the Christian persecution from Islamic terrorists,” one-time local school board candidate Sharon Poe told the Enquirer. “What happen to the argument of the separation of church and state?”
Poe also opined that “wearing these hijabs represents the oppression of women and Sharia law.”
On Thursday, Mason High principal Mindy McCarty-Stewart sent a second missive to parents announcing the cancellation of the Covered Girl Challenge.
“[W]e received many strong messages that made me reconsider the event’s ability to meet its objectives,” McCarty-Stewart wrote, according to the Cincinnati newspaper.
The day of hijabs was intended to bring awareness to stereotypes adherents of Islam who feel compelled to wear the head covering every single day, the principal explained.
“I now realize that as adults we should have given our students better guidance. After much consideration and after talking with the student event organizers, we have canceled the event.”
Despite the letter sent home to parents from the public school and the permission slip, school officials have insisted that the Covered Girl Challenge was initiated by the Muslim Student Association on campus.
People who supported the April 23 Covered Girl Challenge have said they believe McCarty-Stewart “caved to bigotry.”
Muslim students “were robbed of an opportunity” to champion Islam “and they have a right to be heard just like anybody else,” irate parent Yasmeen Allen, a native of Iraq, told the Enquirer.
Promotional stunts involving Muslim headscarves — and the resulting massive pushback — is becoming increasingly common across the United States.
In January, a taxpayer-funded charter school in the suburbs of Sacramento celebrated its own Hijab Day. Just like at Mason High, all female students — but only female students — were encouraged to wear Muslim headscarves. (RELATED: Taxpayer-Funded School Celebrates Hijab Day)
Back in 2013, a small Texas town saw a huge hubbub after two local public high school girls dressed up in full-length Islamic burqas for a day. (RELATED: Texas Public School Students Don Burqas, Learn That Muslim Terrorists Are Freedom Fighters)
For the record, Feb. 1 is World Hijab Day. Sort of like Christmas and Thanksgiving rolled into one for lovers of Muslim head coverings, World Hijab Day offers a formalized opportunity to proselytize about veils. (RELATED: How Will You Celebrate World Hijab Day Today?)