Grahamsville, New York — The insults first came in fifth grade, pursuing Xelina Encarnacion in hallways, classrooms and the school bus that carried her between her Loch Sheldrake home and Tri-Valley Elementary School.
The taunts of “bomb baby,” “terrorist” and “towel head” followed her into the seventh grade at Tri-Valley Secondary School as she began wearing a hijab, a traditional head covering that Muslim women begin wearing at puberty.
When a boy pulled her hijab Wednesday, Xelina retaliated, landing in detention after chasing him down and hitting him. “I felt violated,” she said. “I felt like I didn’t deserve it, because I was protecting myself.”