UTAH (Web Desk) – A Muslim girl was thrown out of a school bus twice in Utah state of US for donning a hijab.
The 15-year-old girl, Janna Bakeer, is a student in Timpview High School in Provo City, Utah.
She was taking the bus to home when the driver while using the bus’s intercom said, “Hey you with the blue hair thingie, get off the bus, you don’t belong here,” according Randall Spencer, the family’s lawyer.
“It’s (hijab) a part of who I am and where I come from and a part of my religion. Every day, I match my hijab with my outfits,” Bakeer was quoted as saying by ABC News affiliate WBND-LD.
“…the bus driver, she got her speaker and I was wearing a blue scarf. And she’s like, ‘Hey, you with that blue thing, you don’t ride this bus and I’ve never seen you ride it so get off’,” Bakeer said of the incident that took place last month.
She said she felt humiliated and started to cry as she got off the bus. “I was just really embarrassed how everybody was staring.”
“I asked her politely, ‘Can I please ride the bus today?’ and she (driver) just put her arm and blocked the walkway to the bus,” Bakeer said.
“I absolutely believe that it was discrimination,” said the family’s attorney Spencer.
“The bus driver didn’t even know Janna’s name, we don’t think, and could not have checked or known she was not on the list to ride the bus,” Spencer was quoted as saying the Daily Herald.
“All the bus driver knew is that she didn’t know her before and she is a Muslim wearing a hijab,” he said.
However; Caleb Price, spokesman for the Provo City School District, declined that the incident was an act of discrimination.
He said that students can only ride their assigned buses and that the girl was assigned to a different one from the one she boarded.
“From what we can see in our investigation, there was nothing discriminatory about the school bus driver’s behaviour,” he said.
On the other hand, Spencer says that the girl had been riding the same bus since middle school but with different drivers.
The Bakeer family had sought an apology from the school administration and asked the district to do sensitivity training.