Linde McAvoy, 21, was reportedly expelled from the Georgia Career Institute in Tennessee for wearing a hijab, according to Huffington Post.
A local law firm and the Muslim Advocates, a civil rights organization, sent a letter to the college asking it to revise the existing dress code and requesting McAvoy’s tuition be refunded.
The letter says staff at the school told the young Muslim woman that her hijab was against the dress code.
The only dress code policy addressed in the Georgia Career Institute’s student handbook is about wearing all-black attire and dressing “professionally.”
McVoy said she allegedly experienced harassment for her head covering even after telling the administrators it was worn for religious reasons. Despite that, she followed the rules by wearing black slacks, black shirts and a black hijab while at school.
She also claimed that Joyce Meadows, the college president, used force to remove her from classes and to send her home. McVoy was told to get external confirmation that her hijab was worn for her religious beliefs to continue her education at the school.
“I was expelled in a public space. It made the environment feel very hostile. It was pretty intimidating to have to choose [between] the career I’m trying to pursue and do for the rest of my life versus the religion that I’m following and hold dear to me and want to do well in,” McAvoy said. “I definitely felt targeted.”
“It’s incredibly important for Muslim women to wear the hijab and get educated,” Nimra Azmi, a staff attorney at Muslim Advocates told the news site.
“We don’t think those things are antithetical. We don’t think that wearing the hijab is inherently unprofessional.”
Azmi continued, “It is illegal to discriminate against Muslim women who want to wear the hijab. It is unjust to do so. Wearing the hijab isn’t somehow in opposition to receiving an education or growing your career. All women should have the opportunities regardless of how they dress themselves in accordance to their faith.”
Meadows, however, called the accusations “unfounded” and cited the school’s diversity in a statement.
“Staff, students and graduates represent every possible cultural, racial and religious group,” she said. “No one has ever been expelled from the Institute for requirements of a religion.”