Emma Findlen LeBlanc spoke to the Portland Press Herald following a report she published about racial discrimination in Maine schools for the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine:
Immigrants and minority students face steady harassment and discrimination in Maine schools, according to over 100 students, parents and educators interviewed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine.
“These experiences are way more pervasive than we like to think,” said the report’s author, ACLU of Maine senior researcher Emma Findlen LeBlanc.
“Everyone knows there is some hostility. But imagine every day, being called a terrorist. Every day, being afraid to go the bathroom. That’s an experience that’s hard for most of us to understand.”
The report focuses on immigrant students, but notes that there is similar discrimination and exclusion for students in other marginalized groups, such as minorities, students with disabilities or from low-income families, or students of different sexual orientations.
“Many students of color face a constant barrage of bullying, as well as unwelcoming school cultures,” LeBlanc wrote. “Muslim students described other students pushing them in the hallways, calling them terrorists, and trying to pull off their headscarves. Students of color described white students telling them to ‘go back to Mexico’ or threatening to have them deported. One black student described students she didn’t know reaching out and tugging her hair as she walked through school hallways. Hateful speech, including racial epithets and derogatory terms for immigrants and sexual minorities, is common.”