Despite Growing Acceptance, Religious Creek Students Still Face Discrimination


Emily Gleason

Freshman Jenna Goiornazi, junior Doaa Zarooq, sophomore Maream Lasafer, and an anonymous MSA member discuss ideas for this year’s Muslim Student Association club meetings and events. The club was created last year to educate others and to serve as a place for Muslim students to connect with other Muslim students. “I love the American experience, but I also also want the Muslim experience too,” Zarooq said.

Emily Gleason, Features Editor

Because of Creek’s large student population, there are many different religions at the school; however, the silent treatment, side glances, glares, microaggressions, jokes, and outright insults are all responses that students of any religion can receive because of their faith.

Many of those with religious beliefs believe that while a majority of students respect their views, Creek is still in the process of becoming accepting of all religions because of an inability to see different viewpoints and have discussions. 

“Putting aside our differences, knowing that everyone in the world is a human being, and being able to connect on a different level other than politics and religions will definitely help bring the world closer together,” junior Jennifer Oh said. “Being more open about what religion means, what religion is doing [in] our society right now, and how religion has affected us through history can really bring awareness to [all religions].” 

To make Creek a more accepting environment for all different religious viewpoints, many students think that encouraging conversation about religion is key.

“I don’t even think there is an environment for [religion],” sophomore Will Tavlarides said. “I feel like religion is very taboo, and [students] don’t talk about it.”  

Religion is inevitably discussed in classes, especially in subjects like history and English, but  students believe it should be talked about more because it is “just part of the world,” as senior Garner Stockton put it. 

Some people will not talk to Stockton because he is Catholic. “People will attack [me] on it, and I think that they should just ask more questions to get to know [my] situation better [and] know your views better,” Stockton said. “They just have to see you [and] ask you about it and not be like, ‘Oh, you’re this because of this.’”

Teachers often play a role in facilitating conversations about religion in classes, and students believe that they should not be prohibited or persecuted for sharing their religious or political views with their classes; yet, if there are differing opinions, all opinions should be accepted. “We’re at that age where we start to have opinions for ourselves, so if we disagree with something I don’t think anyone should be called out for it,” freshman Helen Miller said. 

Having conversations about religion can also help stop offensive comments and stereotypes.

President of the Muslim Student Association (MSA) junior Doaa Zarooq says she and other Muslim students have gotten many looks in the hallways, especially if they wear traditional religious clothing such as hijabs. They have also received comments and questions like “I can’t believe you wear that on your head” and “Is that what a terrorist would wear?” and “Are you going to be in a forced arranged marriage?” along with other comments. 

“I had a friend my freshman year who told me that her grandma didn’t like Muslim people because of ISIS,” Zarooq said. “I guess her grandma had the idea that all Muslims basically hate people who aren’t Muslims, and they want to kill anybody who isn’t Muslim, which is an upsetting thing that has been put throughout the media; that’s not what Islam is all about.”

Sometimes harmful comments can be passed off as “jokes.”

“I have definitely heard some Jew jokes and Hitler jokes, but they have been very sparse and few,” Jewish Student Connection (JSC) co-president senior Hannah Simon said. “I just kind of treat it like someone’s saying the r-word and [say], ‘hey, we don’t think that this was really appropriate,’ and [I] just move on with my life.”

Despite the divisions and comments that having different opinions and views can cause, Oh believes that it can also bring people closer together. 

“Having opposing viewpoints can be challenging, but sometimes it can form stronger friendships because you’re facing the adversity of being so different from each other but you overcame that,” Oh said. 

One way Creek provides information about different religions as well as a safe space for students to discuss and share their religions is through having these different clubs like the JSC, MSA, and Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). 

Participation can vary, yet having these clubs that are open to students of any background or religion, gives students a chance to learn more about many of the different religions as well as cultures here at Creek. “It’s a chance for us to educate the community in a way that we see fit and helpful,” Simon said.

These clubs sometimes struggle to retain club members as the school year goes on, and they encourage students to come. 

“Even if they just come in for one meeting, ask a couple questions, and never show their faces ever again, that’s okay,” Zarooq said. “It’s just the satisfaction of people feeling like they can be safe enough to come here and talk to us because MSA is a club where anyone is welcome. Anyone is welcome to ask questions even if they feel like maybe their question is a little bit dumb or maybe their question is a little bit offensive; any question is a question that we can obviously try to answer even if we’re not scholars.”

Having conversations and acknowledging different perspectives can create a more accepting environment for students and create stronger relationships between students. “It’ll just open up their soul,” Oh said.