A Muslim mother in Arizona has expressed frustration with her daughter’s school as they continue serving her pork despite being asked not to.
The mother, identified by Raw Story only as Nancy, claims that even after she provided the school with a doctor’s note explaining that their family is Muslim and as such doesn’t consume any pork products, the school cafeteria failed to follow the instructions.
Initially, the school accommodated Nancy’s daughter, but back in December, the second-grader was served a bacon cheeseburger, and when she objected to the bacon, she was told to “pick it off.”
“Picking it off doesn’t work because it’s in the hamburger,” Nancy explained to local reporters.
The exasperated mother went in person to Holaway Elementary School to get to the bottom of the situation and was given the most ridiculous excuse.
School officials allegedly told Nancy that because her daughter does not look Muslim, the cafeteria workers are unable to identify her as such.
“The principal had said because she didn’t wear the traditional clothes and because she’s just a white girl that was going there, she didn’t fit that normal stereotype of being Muslim — so it wasn’t obvious for them to follow the guidelines for her,” Nancy recounted.
Nancy became officially fed up when her daughter was later served a cereal bar that contained gelatin, which is a byproduct of pork.
A spokesperson for the school district maintained that the school is not required to adhere to special dietary needs based on religion alone, but only if the child has a medical issue and a doctor’s note confirming said issue.
“We encourage families with children with any special dietary needs to make sure they are educating their children about what to look for so they know what is acceptable and what they should avoid,” a statement from the district read.
“The best way to ensure a meal meets any special dietary needs is to send a meal from home that you have prepared,” they added.
In general, the school’s point is valid that parents are responsible for making sure their kids know what they can and cannot eat whether it’s due to religious restrictions or food allergies, and the child must be aware. However, the fact that officials are justifying their failure to accommodate Nancy’s daughter by simply saying they aren’t “required” to is absurd.
Respect for other cultures and religions shouldn’t need to be spelled out in an official document in order to be practiced.
“I want my religion to matter to you guys,” Nancy said. “My daughter shouldn’t have to go to school and be fearful of [what] she’s eating.”
Additionally, the school’s alleged stereotyping of what a Muslim should look like and determining that Nancy’s daughter doesn’t fit the mode crosses the line into racism.
They are, essentially, suggesting that if the second-grader was of Middle Eastern descent or wore traditional Muslim garb, the cafeteria workers would be more inclined to oblige her requests.
This is unacceptable, to say the least, and further perpetuates harmful misconceptions about Islam.
Banner/Thumbnail Photo Credit: Flickr, U.S. Department of Agriculture