One teacher in Arizona who supports Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump may be taking his anti-Latino, anti-Muslim rhetoric too far, according to an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) complaint separately filed with the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Department of Education.
The complaint alleged that a teacher at the Academy of Excellence, a public charter school in Phoenix, singled out a Muslim refugee student for his faith and nationality. The teacher, Faye Myles, told the student, A.A., that she couldn’t wait for Trump to become president because that would mean the student could get deported.
A.A. is a Muslim refugee from Somalia who came to the United States in 2012. Up until January, A.A., an 11-year-old, had been enrolled at the school as a sixth grader.
“I can’t wait until Trump is elected,” the teacher reportedly told the student. “He’s going to deport all you Muslims. Muslims shouldn’t be given visas. They’ll probably take away your visa and deport you. You’re going to be the next terrorist, I bet.”
The complaint further alleged that Myles’ harassment “was extensive,” going so far as to choke A.A. “until his eyes began to water from the pain.” The teacher also showed the class a video clip of the September 11, 2001 hijackers and suggested that A.A. was going to become a terrorist, saying “That’s going to be you.”
Calls and emails left for Myles and the school have gone unanswered as of this writing.
As part of his immigration and national security policy proposals, Trump supports shutting down refugee resettlement and stopping Muslim immigration, both categories that A.A. and his family would likely fit in. But as Trump’s rhetoric has gotten more heated and targeted, so has the number of incidents across the country against immigrants, Latinos, and Muslims.
Many academics are already concerned that Trump’s behavior could have a big impact in the classroom. In an open letter, ten former state and national Teachers of the Year wrote that Trump’s “behavior goes against everything we teach the children in our care.”
One Pepperdine University professor has found it difficult to objectively teach the political cycle in part because of Trump’s “willingness to attack two of the cornerstone rights of liberal democracies — the freedom of religion and the liberty to express criticism, especially through a free press.” In New York City, teachers “may not wear buttons, pins, articles of clothing, or any other items advocating a candidate, candidates, slate of candidates or political organisation/committee.”
Yet another English and history high school teacher in Massachusetts pointed out that it was difficult to let some of Trump’s false claims “go unchallenged.” He wrote, “Let’s be honest: A student who frequently made racist and sexist remarks about classmates would end up in the principal’s office, maybe even find himself suspended. We can’t assign Trump a detention, but at the very least, teachers can explain to students that he’s broken the class rules.”
In spite of some teachers’ valiant efforts to teach students about Trump, it would appear that schoolchildren already invoke the candidate’s name to scare their Latino and Muslim classmates, referencing the candidate’s harsh claims of Latino criminals and Muslim terrorists. A predominantly Latino elementary school in California was graffiti-tagged with the words “Build the wall higher” last week, alluding to Trump’s policy plan to build a southern U.S. border wall to keep out undocumented immigrants. And underage children use curse words when referring to the Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
“We’re telling all our kids that bigotry and bullying are perfectly acceptable in the leader of their country,” First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama recently opined after an Access Hollywood video surfaced featuring Trump bragging about sexually assaulting women. “Is that what we want for our children?”