Over 100 students rally together to support student bullied for wearing hijab
LAS CRUCES, N.M. – Bullying is something everyone has experienced at some point in their lives, and this is especially true for young students. But it’s not often those experiences are turned into a positive.
Some students and teachers down in Las Cruces made sure one student know she’s not alone.
It was a normal September day for one 7th grade student down at Camino Real Middle School.
“Well at lunch they were all at a table, walked by, he said ‘Hey,’ and I said ‘I don’t like you,” like in a jokingly way, we both knew it, we both kind of laughed it off,” said the student.
But then – a moment she’ll never forget.
“And then when I was walking out, another kid in the back he shouted out ‘At least I didn’t cause 9/11, you terrorist.’”
She said she went to the office and reported the student – but the damage was already done.
“I didn’t expect that to happen to me like ever, but like, the world’s not fair.”
Fortunately, her teachers weren’t going to let this go.
"One of the things that I could tell is that she felt alone. She was the only one having to face this, that she was going through it by herself,” said Brittany Johnson, Camino Real Middle School teacher. “It was just an instant picture of this is what needs to happen."
Those teachers reached out to some students with a really moving idea.
"I can’t even come up with the words about how sort of magical it was, and how heartwarming it was,” said Shelly Harris, principal at Camino Real Middle School.
More than 100 students got together the next morning to walk her to class and show her she’s loved.
"I felt that we should take the initiative to just be there for her, and let her know that she’s not alone,” said a student. "When I look back on it, I’m like ‘Whoa’ I still can’t believe that happened. This is such an awesome school."
Students and teachers said that day was a real turning point for everyone.
"It did completely change the morale of the entire school, all the way from the admin, all the way to the custodians feel a difference, the cafeteria staff can tell a difference. It made us one,” said Johnson. “You see, you see so many good things now. After that whole thing, it’s like a trend now to do something good, to help someone, to lift someone up.”
"I think from that point, kids saw that they have power, that the bystander has power, that things can get turned around and be made for good,” said Harris.
And as for the girl at the center of it all.
"I mean, I’m kind of happy to come back to school, because I know I have everyone there to be there for me, it’s a safe place,” she said. “I actually feel a lot more confident wearing this now.”