Today at lunch I was sitting in the Staffroom, when I became aware of a conversation between one of the Early Childhood Educators (ECE) and an Special Needs Assistant (SNA). The SNA wears hijab, and the ECE was saying to her “I want to see your hair.
The SNA tried to put her off, saying “It’s a mess, I haven’t washed it” but the ECE persisted, and as there were only four women in the room, ECE, SNA, another ECE who is also Muslim, but doesn’t wear hijab generally, and me, SNA unwrapped her headscarf.
The first ECE declared how good she though the SNA looked, and said, gesturing towards the other ECE, who happened to be wearing a scarf around her neck that day “You should just wear the scarf around your neck, like she does.”
Now until that point I was a little slow on the uptake, I was sitting a little ways away, and wasn’t following the conversation closely but when I heard that, I was like “Oh, no, she didn’t.” and I jumped into the conversation.
Me: “I don’t think that would be a good idea. SNA works with kids who might try and grab it if it were down around her neck. Better to keep it high and out of the way. Ever with how tight she keeps it, I remember one time a couple years ago when one of my students ripped it off her head. If it had been around her neck he would have hurt her badly.”
SNA flashed me a big smile, and the second ECE quickly agreed that it was better tied up and away. First ECE looked at me funny, but shut up.
I didn’t get a chance to talk to SNA later about what happened but I want to touch base with her Tuesday when school starts up again.
I can’t shake the feeling that the Conservatives rhetoric was a motivating factor in that exchange, which pisses me off even more.