CHICAGO (CBS) — A Christian woman from Hickory Hills who has been wearing a hijab as a gesture of solidarity with Muslims said she got some pushback from her sons’ Boy Scout troop.
Although most people have supported her decision to wear a hijab — a head covering worn by many Muslim women — Dr. Lori Szeszywcki said the backlash from her sons’ Scout troop has her “looking over my shoulder a little bit.”
“It’s not a pleasant feeling to know that things are going on behind my back, and I do wonder a little bit what’s going to happen next, because some folks have a lot of time on their hands, and these things will fester,” she said.
Szeszywcki said her decision to wear a hijab is a gesture of solidarity.
“It is not a political gesture,” she said.
When she sat down with her family to say she wanted to wear a hijab, she told them there might be some negative reaction.
She got her sons’ support, and, for the most part, other people have supported her decision to wear a hijab.
“I had a little bit of backlash; ‘little bit’ really meaning a lot from my sons’ Boy Scout troop,” she said.
The negative reaction from her sons’ Scout troop was delivered by an emissary, who suggested she remove the hijab.
“‘Look, folks don’t like this and they want you to take it off, and they’re viewing this as very negative and very disruptive,’ and I refused,” she said.
Szeszywcki said a troop leader got phone calls after she started wearing the hijab six weeks ago.
“I was particularly disheartened by her quote-unquote ‘explanation’ for these phone calls. So, apparently, when people would call her and say, ‘Hey, what’s Lori Szeszywcki doing wearing hijab to meetings?’ she would say, ‘Well, I just think it’s an error in judgment. She’s had a hard year.’ My father died a few months ago,” she said.
Despite the negative reaction from the troop, she still goes to Boy Scout activities.
“I go to every one. I’m wearing my hijab. I’m not addressing the group at all about it, but I am addressing them just as part of my leadership role,” she said. “I’m not in the shadows, and that’s not my personality to be in the shadows.”
The Boy Scouts of America issued the following statement:
“Scouting members are always encouraged to treat all people in a courteous manner. We will evaluate this matter and treat all parties with dignity and respect.”