Trump hears from bullied student: The other kids drew swastikas on my arms

A student from Florida has told US President Donald Trump of the antisemitic abuse she suffered at the hands of her peers, including having swastikas drawn on her arms.

During a ceremony in the Oval Office in which Trump signed an executive order protecting prayer in public schools, the president invited those assembled to tell their own stories.

Ariana Hoblin, a high school student from Florida, stepped forward to introduce herself. 

"In my middle school, I was the only Jewish person, and I was very open with my religion," she explained. "I would announce when I had Shabbat plans, which is a day of prayer and rest, and when we started our Holocaust unit it ended with everybody being nice to me because I spoke out about it and I wanted to inform people and I wanted to help people learn."

Recounting how the bullying started not long after, Ariana gave an emotional account of her suffering.

"The students started to write swastikas on my belongings, on my arms. I was pushed and shoved in the hallway, they even went so far as to take my face and put it on Anne Frank's body and it was sent around to three different schools. I was terrified to say I was Jewish. That should never be in anyone's mind. Anyone at school should be able to say 'I am whatever religion I am; I practice this and I believe this.'"

The event at the Oval Office was timed to coincide with National Religious Freedom Day. Also present were Christian and Muslim representatives, all of whom had, along with Ariana, been discriminated against for displaying their religion at school. Although students are legally allowed to pray on school grounds, school-sponsored prayer was banned by the Supreme Court on First Amendment grounds.

However, Trump said that too often this means that students are unable to share their faiths. The government must "never stand between the people and God," he said, adding "It is totally unacceptable. You see it on the football field. You see it so many times where they are stopped from praying, and we are doing something to stop that."

For Ariana, a change of schools made all the difference.

"It's been three or four years since middle school. I'm [now] a junior in high school, and I've continuously fought for anyone to have the right to exercise their constitutional rights in school," she said.

"My high school is extremely supportive of me. I go to Wellington High School, and they've helped me be a leader in the Jewish community now."

"Well, this is going to help, too," Trump said, before thanking her.

Source: jpost