Girls should not be segregated on public school property

TDSB is breaking its own gender discrimination policy

Photo courtesy of Zainub on Flickr

The Toronto District School Board has gotten a lot of flak this week for its decision to allow weekly Islamic prayer sessions in one of its school’s cafeterias. While supporters and critics have been relentlessly debating the existential question of prayer in public schools, one group caught in the middle has garnered only a fraction of the attention. I’m referring to the female students who participate in Friday prayers at Valley Park Middle School, relegated to the back on the cafeteria and not permitted to participate when menstruating. Indeed, the TDSB itself has mostly skirted (no pun intended) the issue of gender segregation during prayers at Valley Park, absolving itself of responsibility by stating, ”We do not have the authority to tell faith groups how to pray.”

Indeed, the Board is not of such authority in most situations, but here the prayers are happening during school hours, on public school property. Based on sheer geography alone, the TDSB has an obligation to see that the values and provisions outlined in its own Human Rights Policy are upheld within its school walls. The policy states that the Board has, “a duty to maintain an environment respectful of human rights and free of discrimination,” and may not “allow or condone behaviour contrary to this policy.”

How is it that the TDSB can call for instruction on sexism and gender inequality in its Social Studies classes, yet look the other way when girls are facing active discrimination within its walls?

The TDSB’s position is clear. It allows for the differential treatment of girls within its walls by insisting that the services are a community-run initiative, solicited by Valley Park parents and run by a neighbourhood imam. Indeed, according to a statement released by Chris Spence, TDSB director of education, :The division of the sexes which occurs during the service is a part of the Islamic faith.”

But faith or not, and supposed autonomy or not, the TDSB has an obligation to its students to provide a safe space free from discrimination. And it is all clear in writing; all persons operating on TDSB premises much adhere to Human Rights Policy. It states, “This policy applies to all Toronto District School Board students, employees, trustees, and other users such as members of consultative committees, clients of the Board, parents, volunteers, permit holders, contractors, and employees of organizations not related to the Board but who nevertheless work on or are invited onto Board premises.” (Emphasis mine.)

But the problem is more significant than just an inherent contradiction in rules. Indeed, the more important issue is that when a public school—a supposed beacon of equality—suddenly tolerates discrimination within its four walls, it compromises its status as a safe space for all students. Religious accommodation in public schools should exist as a means for equity, not a medium of exclusion. And it should only be enforced insofar as the individual rights and freedoms of all students may still be upheld. The TDSB must practice what it (literally) preaches if it hopes to give any authority to its lessons on gender equality and discrimination. It cannot stand idly as its female students are sent to the back of the room, especially when that room is just down the hall.




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Girls should not be segregated on public school property

  1. And the Charter gives freedom of religion to all Canadians. Thanks for more first-world ignorant drivel.

    • And freedom of religion is not freedom to discriminate, nor freedom to commandeer public venues. Segregation on public property? How dare you.

      • a very big difference anon. Don’t bring third world discrimination over here, its not welcome.

  2. Robyn, I agree with your article completely. Public schools should not in any way be seen to condone or give their approval to any act of discrimination. The fact that the discrimination is part of a religion does not excuse it, and in fact further indicates why religion must be completely excluded from public schools.

  3. This is a ridiculous article. This article has more to do with the author trumpeting her own interpretation of the situation (limited, ethnocentric, biased and erroneous as it is) than the rights of these female Muslim students. The author assumes that mixing of genders during prayer would be desireable or even acceptable to Muslimahs. The author assumes that the fact that women pray behind men implies some sort of inferiority. Way to see the world through your own tiny, self-righteous lens, Ms. Urback. Next time, try engaging these women and hearing their voices, their views, rather than spewing out drivel regarding what YOU think their opinions ought to be.

    • Irrelevant what muslim women think or not think about gender separation
      In canada (or to that matter any modern country)we dont want gender based separation.
      If you want to live in that kind of society you can gladly choose to live one. There are quite few out there.

      • If ‘you’ want to impose specific rules that are ‘irrelevant to what (anyone) thinks’.. doesn’t that sound like a dictatorship to you? Sounds like Canada is becoming one of those dirty societies that everyone seems to be talking about.

      • What the women involved think about the situation and whether they even feel “discriminated” against is irrelevant? What is your basis for that? They can’t speak for themselves? They need Daddy white man to speak for them?
        If the board or anyone doesn’t like it, don’t allow the service period. Don’t try to tell people, as an outsider, how to practice their own faith.

    • Once Allah’s Apostle went out to the Musalla (to offer the prayer) o ‘Id-al-Adha or Al-Fitr prayer. Then he passed by the women and said, “O women! Give alms, as I have seen that the majority of the dwellers of Hell-fire were you (women).” They asked, “Why is it so, O Allah’s Apostle ?” He replied, “You curse frequently and are ungrateful to your husbands. I have not seen anyone more deficient in intelligence and religion than you. A cautious sensible man could be led astray by some of you.” The women asked, “O Allah’s Apostle! What is deficient in our intelligence and religion?” He said, “Is not the evidence of two women equal to the witness of one man?” They replied in the affirmative. He said, “This is the deficiency in her intelligence. Isn’t it true that a woman can neither pray nor fast during her menses?” The women replied in the affirmative. He said, “This is the deficiency in her religion.” – Sahih Bukhari 1.6.301

    • Go to a Islamic school then, public schools are just that. PUBLIC.

    • Whooo. Did you wear burqa when writing this article?

  4. Fatimah.

    In Canada, we don’t allow people to be discriminated against in our public institutions. It’s one of the things that makes our country great. And if our country wasn’t great, then there wouldn’t be immigrants flooding in here from all across the Islamic world.

    You can discriminate all you like in your own private spaces like a mosque, but in public schools paid for by public tax dollars, people should be equal.

    • Well said John! I agree completely. What you do in private is your business, as long as you aren’t breaking the law. But in a school that all Canadians pay for through their tax dollars, separation and discrimination shouldn’t happen.

  5. Fatimah,

    Welcome to the thesis for most of Ms. Urback’s articles.

  6. John M.

    Your comment as racist and ignorant as it is, is lacking any knowledge of why immigrants ‘flood’ in from all Islamic world. Firstly, there are 53 named Islamic countries & only certain ethnicities like Pakistan, Afghanistan & certain Arab countries ‘flood’ this country, certainly not because of any moral values but rather poverty & lack of security is on top of their lists. Should I remind you that every single one of these countries that brings their wave of immigrants here have been occupied by either French or British for decades,all sharing the most oppressive history at the hands of their occupiers that have left them with lost culture, lost civilization, lost harmony & lost prosperity to deal with. The occupiers raped them of opportunities for generations only to bring them back to this part of the world & its only fair their generations claim back their stolen opportunities. With that being said, I suggest you hit some racism-free resources to educate yourself in the wisdom behind structure building within Muslim communities and you’ll find that by placing woman in certain place with the structure, the structure (society) stands firmer. You may believe in placing your home foundations on your roof tops but Muslims believe the foundation is strongest within the earth. The author’s article is lacking knowledge & research, he has failed define how placing the woman’s row parallel to men’s right behind them is discrimination? The author is lacking the most basic analytical & research skills, is biased & is spreading misinformation & hatred.

    • Oh yeah Saudi Arabia the great bastion of muslim culture is a model to the rest of the world?? Their most famous export other than oil is proxy terrorism.
      Canada is not and should not be a land for gender based separation. period. These so called muslims who flood this country are all reasonably educated people and are not the starving type or poor, you make out to be. So all your thesis of Muslim culture superiority is load of ….

      The sooner you start reforming your community to modernity the better you are.

    • Baneen,

      Muslim history is full of its own examples of conquest and colonialism. Whereas Westerners have at least come to acknowledge colonialism committed by their countries, Muslim countries have yet to own upto the colonialism committed by their people against others. A classic case of denial.

  7. Maybe we can read the Lord’s Prayer in school now too eh? Oh, sorry, the de facto Sharia Law in public schools wouldn’t permit that.

  8. I think first I should teach some fundamentals in language usage: segregation by no means implies discrimination. Segregation simply means to separate based on type, either in inherent property or differing characteristics. To discriminate is simply to treat people or things DIFFERENTLY based on the favour or disfavour that one holds towards any object.

    Nowhere in this drivel has Urback even defined how these young women are being ill treated. It seems she even failed to interview any of the female students participating; which any journalist worth a damn would have done. Maybe, just maybe, she could have even done some half-assed research into the religion of Islam, or at least Islamic prayer. She hasn’t even explained how this segregation is harmful to these young women.

    We segregate schools (based on religion and sex). We segregate washrooms. Why do we do these things, but not for the benefit of both men and women? Just like both sexes concentrate and perform better in school when they aren’t constantly bombarded with the presence of the opposite sex, maybe this same grain of thought is in play when someone is attempting to connect with their lord.

    I’ll put it in another frame. I work in transportation and I guarantee you in the near future the TTC will go the way of almost every other major transit company in the world and offer women’s only subway and bus cars, because women are tired of being harassed on their way to work and the such. Is this segregation? Yes. Is it discrimination? I assume only if you have sypathy for sticky-fingered men who do not know how to respect a woman’s personal space.

    Urbach is a joke, but not far from the typical sentiment coming from the herd of sheep that call themselves Canadians.

    Oh and before I dip, may i lend my earnest thanks and gratitude towards TDSB for allowing freedom of religion and allowing for youth to turn towards something much greater than texting, music videos, premarital sex and in fact, even greater than themselves.

    • Canada doesnt need or want gender based separation. period.
      Dont need any twisted argument to justify this type of set up in canada. Period
      Solve problems and improve institution and not change them

    • Your right, you are in a world of your own.
      maybe we should divide countries while we are following your logic.

      There are places, where this kind of thinking is already in place, try Saudi Arabia.

    • Taliban is giving us the apartheid-era defense that “segregation is not discrimination”. This was also used in the Southern United States to similarly treat people like second-class citizens. People were told to use different washrooms and sit at the back of the bus.

      Segregation inherently results in discrimination, and is the natural precursor for it.

    • Go home then if you don’t like us Canadians and our freedoms. No one is making you stay here in this wonderful country. Furthermore religion of any kind does not belong in the CANADIAN PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM. It says PUBLIC in the first word. If Catholicism is banned from the PUBLIC school so should any religion. Islam is not above the rest of them.

  9. These kinds of contradictions are part of the reason we need to keep religion out of school.

    A religion won’t necessarily abandon some of its more archaic practices–like segregating women in an unequal fashion (like here), excluding homosexuals (as is the case with the Catholic School Board) etc. etc. Nor can we really question those practices as that would interfer with freedom of religion.

    Similarly the state cannot condone or facilitate discriminatory practices–like excluding homosexuals or segregating genders in an unequal fashion.

    Which is why the two should stay separate and this business of organized prayer at this Toronto School should absolutely not allow.

    And Robyn dont take the criticisms that are being lobbed at you here too seriously. I enjoy your articles. It doesn’t surprise me though that people will call you a “bigot” if you stray from their PC worldview.

    “allowing for youth to turn towards something much greater than texting, music videos, premarital sex and in fact, even greater than themselves.”

    Gawd, I’d much prefer if my kids engaged in texting, music videos and even premarital sex than the mind destroying anachronism of religion.

  10. Robyn, I think your argument is poorly constructed.

    By making this about gender politics rather than the separation of religion and state, you cast judgement on cultural practices you quite clearly know nothing about.

    Do I think that it’s crap that this is going on in public schools? Yes, but not for the reasons you bring up. Religion has no place in publicly our schools. There should be a prayer space for Muslims students so that they can perform Salat as their faith requires them to but that’s as far as accommodations should go. Otherwise we might as well have the Lord’s Prayer or whatnot from every religion going on.

  11. In attempting to point out TDSB’s faults by quoting their policy, Ms. Urback has done the exact opposite. “A duty to maintain an environment respectful of human rights and free of discrimination,” is exactly what the freedom of religion is about. And it the reason why TDSB is correct in allowing Friday prayer on school grounds. To not allow students to follow one of the main pillars of their religion would be a complete breach of this freedom.

    John M., as a young woman whose parents “flooded in from the Islamic world,” fleeing war and in hopes of new opportunity, I’d like to agree with you: this is a great country. But one of the things that makes it as such is the Charter of Human Rights and Freedom, which, as TDSB, guarantees a “freedom of conscience and religion” (part 2.a. since it sounds like you may never have heard of it).

    I constantly here uninformed criticisms of Islam. No one looks to the religion, but allows the entire religion to be coloured by a handful of monsters who have manipulated their religion for their own heinous ends–mass murder.

    Is the seating of women and men in a mosque a sign of discrimination? No. It is to allow the focus to be on the prayer, and not to say that men are better than women. I have often heard people assert that this separation is a sign of discrimination. The same tradition exists in an Orthodox Synagogue, but oddly enough, I don’t hear the same criticism there.

    • “I constantly here uninformed criticisms of Islam.”

      Did you ever think that maybe Ms. Urback understands the reasons offered for the segregation of men and women in Islam and either 1) doesn’t think it makes much sense and/or 2) nonetheless doesn’t think it is acceptable in a school setting?

      “The same tradition exists in an Orthodox Synagogue, but oddly enough, I don’t hear the same criticism there.”

      To my knowledge at least there are no Orthodox Synagogues in the cafeterias of secular public schools. If there were you would probable hear that criticism more loudly.

      “one of the things that makes it as such is the Charter of Human Rights and Freedom, which, as TDSB, guarantees a “freedom of conscience and religion”

      Nowhere in the Charter–and I can recite most of it word for word–does it say that “freedom of conscience and religion” entails orgaized prayer in public schools.

  12. Seperation of Church and State! We are a SECULAR nation. I do not understand why faith should be in the public square, if people do not like it than leave!

  13. Religion has no place in an educational institution. Period.

    More important than freedom of religion is freedom from religion. The more we bend over backwards for religious zealots bent on regressing society, the more peril we put the lives of our children.

    Education is the only path to prosperity and a peaceful society. Thousands of years of history have proven that Religion accomplishes the opposite of peace.

  14. Pingback: Unreasonable accommodation – National Post « ps-capital.com

  15. Muslim prayer in TDSB public schools

    If Muslim prayer is allowed in TDSB public schools, then so should the prayers of every other “ethnic vote” religion: Catholic, Jewish, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Shia & Sunni Muslim (separate!), Asatru, Shinto, Wicca, Voodoo… Why not have theoleptic rituals of dancing and chanting, with rare ancient musical instruments, colourful costumes, incense and flowers, and spirit possession and animal sacrifice, in school hallways. We can only hope they don’t blow up eachother’s prayer ceremonies, as they blow up eachother’s temples……

    Parents of every religion should demand prayer ceremonies for their children in their religion –and specific sect– from their school principal. But then we would have religion in the schools… I would not want to pay for that from my taxes…

    When people dress in masks and costumes on the street and they are not part of a theatrical group or a parade –they scare me. We all know that people who wear masks and costumes on the street do not integrate into Canadian society –nor any other. They want whole societies to become like them. They have their own agenda…

    The Ontario Supreme Court ruling says: “The school may sponsor the study of religion, but may not sponsor the practice of religion.” The act of seating girls behind boys IS a practice of religion. Muslim female clothing is religious practice. The reading of the Koran is the teaching and indoctrination in specific Muslim ideologies and world-views. The parts of the Koran which call for the killing of infidels and homosexuals and the beating of wives –is against Canadian law. The TDSB should be taken to court over this violation. This should become an election issue. Will it be forgotten by the fall? Mark your calendars and keep on it…

  16. I think what the author was getting at is that class time set aside for prayer in schools is not part of the curriculum. Those students, while praying, are supervised by school officials that are paid to teach academics. That is the bottom line. School resources, be it time or space, are not to be allocated for the practice of religious ceremony in replacement to set academic lessons.

    I am a religious man who believes that the world would be a place is everyone prayed several times a day. I remember saying the Lords Prayer every morning in school. I also remember when they took it away. And sure, there was a noticeable difference in the general behaviour of the students who were my peers. But for non Christian students it really did make is a more comfortable environment for them.

    The issue has nothing to do with prayer being good or bad. It’s that religion has no place in the public school system, except from that which is taught in the curriculum. As much as it may seem unfair or bad, this country has a separation of church and state. People are free to leave and find a land that better suits their life if they want. I do not mean this in a cold way, but if people want religion in a public school they need to go to a different country. Or home school your children.

    Remember, we are about bringing the people together not separating them apart. I think it was Muhammad that said “One hour’s meditation on the work of the Creator is better than seventy years of prayer”. So let them go through the school day with the rest of the kids. And learn about the world the Creator has made for them.

  17. I feel uncomfortable praying on school property because of people like Robyn. Already I get judged by my ethnicity despite the fact I was born here and upon hearing this just makes me think that the racists are trying to put themselves out there and make the good people look bad. This is Islam get over it, we are not going to change because you feel that by separating women form men you create some idea that women or in this case young girls are being oppressed. I have to say that this kids did sign a permission slip to practice their own religion. If your are being serious about women being segregated from men, then begin your fight with the public washrooms and leave my religion alone.

    People like you make me sick and looks like you did even bother to understand Islam and men and women are segregated, Like if you did give a damn. If you cared about WHY this is how Muslims pray then go and ask someone then causing up a stir and getting all the racist people riled up.

    • “[W]e are not going to change because you feel that by separating women form men you create some idea that women or in this case young girls are being oppressed.”

      So why should Canadian society change and allow organized prayer in schools?

    • ‘Racism is the belief that there are inherent differences in people’s traits and capacities that are entirely due to their race, however defined, and that, as a consequence, justify the different treatment of those people, both socially and legally. ‘

      Islam is not a race, dear.

  18. I love how the author deleted my comment about his biased journalism. Guess he doesn’t like hearing opinions that oppose his own.

  19. AND so dies the public school system.
    If this is going to be ALLOWED, then

    ALL people should then be allowed to do
    what ever they please , no matter how it disruptive to school day, or inconveniences others.

    Just one more question , what about honoring the rights of others who
    do not wish this,
    GUESS they will have to go to a separate public school system.

  20. Talib wants to give us all a lesson in what the term “segregation” means. Apparently in his view, it means separate but equal. I’d like to direct your attention to an obscure decision of the United States Supreme Court called Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483 (1954.

    Talib, you’re the one who needs the education.

  21. Just as Saturday is given off for the Jewish Sabbath and Sunday is given off as the Christian day of rest and worship, Friday is a special day for Muslims on which they have special congregational prayers. I don’t see any Muslims asking for Friday off from work or school, but just a place to complete their religious duties as Christians and Jews already do on Saturday and Sunday. If we live in a country of Religious freedom then I should have every right to practice my religion where and how I am religiously required to.

    What it comes down to is this: If you won’t let me pray at school (which honestly takes no more than 15 minutes) then you must let me travel to the closest place of worship and pray without consequence.

    So guess what. Instead of imposing your ‘obligation’ to see that what happens on public property is to your liking, just give them Fridays off as well as the time for them to pray their five daily prayers. Stop being biased and judgmental towards issues that you clearly do not understand.

    • “What it comes down to is this: If you won’t let me pray at school (which honestly takes no more than 15 minutes) then you must let me travel to the closest place of worship and pray without consequence.”

      Deal.

    • Not in a Public school

  22. Typical anti-Islamic and xenophobic article masquerading as pro-female article.

    I can easily bet that Ms.Urback does not even know that she comes across as condescending when she imposes her personal opinions and tries to speak for the Muslim girls at Valley Park Middle School. I can also easily bet that she has never been to that school, she has not spoken to a single girl at that school, nor does she know the exact location of that school – yet she feels qualified to write an article that suggests that the TDSB is endorsing sexism.

    Valley Park Middle School is one of the most successful schools in Toronto, it is the most diverse school, and it has one of the highest populations (if not the highest student population for a middle school). The school is also a feeder school to Marc Garneau C.I. (the high school Macleans Magazine named the best school in Canada back in 2004).
    This school has a very high population of Muslim students, so much so that a classroom of 30 students would decrease by more than half on Friday afternoons so that the Muslim males can walk over to the local mosque for prayers. In Islam, it is mandatory for Muslim males to go to their mosque to pray while it is not mandatory for females.

    So the TDSB concluded that it would be better to just have the boys stay in the school and have a local Imam come over to lead prayers. That way, the young boys won’t be exposed to traffic which is dangerous and they don’t miss out on as much school work.

    So how on Earth is this being made into a problem? It’s a win-win situation for everybody. The boys are safe and are getting educated and so are the girls. If anything, going against the prayers in school would be sexist against the boys because you would be denying them of valuable time in school and exposing them to potential harm.

    Give me a break, Ms.Urback! Next time, do your research instead of spewing out your predictable rhetoric.

    • Personal opinions on a blog?? Gasp!

      Well, at least you did not trot out the ‘racist’ card. By the way, you wrote ‘In Islam, it is mandatory for Muslim males to go to their mosque to pray while it is not mandatory for females’, I would be curious to know where you read/heard that and what Qur’an verses and/or Hadith support that.

    • The issue is the Public school system. If other religions are forbidden from holding mass or other rituals in the PUBLIC SCHOOL. Then why shouldn’t Islamic? I’m pretty sure they pay the same taxes as the other religions that are excluded out of TDSB decisions.

    • Bill,

      You are what is popularly called, a Useful Idiot.

      You know nothing about Islam yet leap to it’s defense.

      The real reason why prayers are being conducted in the cafeteria was told to me by my muslim colleague, who lives in this area.

      Kids were checking out of school to attend prayers, but instead of heading to the mosque, they preferred to hang out at the local mall.

      The parents thought of this brilliant scheme whereby they could use the secular TDSB as a tool to enforce their Islamic requirements.

      Also, the mosque in the area conducts TWO sessions of Friday prayers due to the volume of people attending… so much for the argument about timings being sacrosanct.. It would have been so easy to get the mosque to conduct a prayer session at 3:30 for the kids, but then it’s so much easier to get the dhimmified TDSB to do their dirty work.

      Get a life and get an education. Like Sam Solomon said about the Quran burning incident “Don’t Burn It, Learn It”.

  23. I’d like Macleans to ask Irshad Manji, a female Muslim writer, a GAY female Muslim writer, who grew up in Canada’s public schools to write a piece about her thoughts on “religious accommodation.” I think she may have some insights into the matter.

    Just as an aside, do you think we’ll even have any more Irshad Manji’s with religious accommodations in the schools being solidified into bureaucratic policy? Something to be worried about……….

  24. How Could this Happen?

    I would like to remind readers that the same justification are given for why Canada refuses to ban the burqa/niquab in the public square – even though the niquab promotes women’s inequality and poses a danger.

    “Freedom of Religion……Multiculturalism…….It’s her own choice…..Religious Accommodation…….”

    How long until naive Canadians realize that – with high Muslim birth rates and ongoing immigration – the time to ban the burka /niquab is now!! Speak to your MPP! Speak to your MP! What you don’t like on other women, will be imposed on your daughter/grand daughter.

  25. To Bill,

    Typical Left-wing opportunism, Political Correctness, and race-baiting masquerading as liberal tolerance. It’s one thing to accommodate students on an individual basis, but as soon as you start making deals with collectives, then you are dividing the student body into tectonic blocs, which will inherently give those blocs the enhanced power to do as they please, without automatic regard to any standards, practices, ethics, or sensitivities which may be required under the law.

    I wish Macleans would implement a ‘thumbs-down’ feature for the comments on their site, because I would thumb you down in a heartbeat – and so, I suspect, would most others. Third-rate sellouts like you who betray one set of civil liberties while pretending to defend another are the reason why the political Left are on the wane in this country – thank goodness.

  26. Getalife does something a lot of Muslims are in the habit of doing. They excuse rational argument against Islam with “you are racist.” And good little Canadians quiver in fear of being PC.

    Race cannot be changed, Getalife, religion can. And it’s time Canadians stopped accommodating a religion that’s still buried in the medieval times. Time to change it up!

  27. We’ll agree to keep our equality out of your mosques if you’ll agree to keep your sexism out of our schools.

  28. The solutuion to this embarrassing display of Muslim immodesty is for Hindus to respectfully attend these public cafeteria meetings, sit among all (both mixed male and female), and quietly pray Devi Mahatmyam, or Durga Saptasloki, or Durga Suktam … or whatever scripture that you know, and is appropriate to your tradition. Also, get your Christian friends to hand out flyers promoting attendance to their church. If you are removed or banned, then it will prove the hypocrisy and unjust preferential status given to these arrogant people. A lawsuit is then just a step away. Remember to always be careful, respectful and completely nonviolent with your demonstration. Jai Mata Ji.

  29. @Bill

    And so it goes. This is called the Islamization of our societies. Here in the Netherlands we’ve seen the Town Hall of Rotterdam change to serve three types of meal: vegetarian, fish, and Halal. The mayor, Achmed Aboutaleb, claims this is because it is easier and more efficient this way.

    The reasoning is exactly the same here. The Muslim Canadian Congress is opposed to these prayer sessions. I guess they can see the writing on the wall here, that there is no end to religious pressure of this kind, and you have to start pushing back at some point. Are we not convinced that “secular” is a critical adjective to “democracy”?

    If any other religion were pushing as hard as Islam to erode the secular nature of our democracies, we’d be on top of it as well. Lawsuits have been fought in the US about teaching Intelligent Design on public schools (Kitzmiller vs. Dover area schoolboard).

    Mixing religious practices with education in public schools under the guise of freedom of religion is eroding the very nature of our secular democracies. We should have none of it.

  30. The quickest way of climbing the steepest ladder in journalism industry is to write an unfounded, controversial and biased article on ISLAM and its practices in a leading “pro human-rights or (more rightly) anti-religion” media platform.
    To add few more STARS you can get the acknowledgement from MCC “Muslim Canadian Congress” the so-called Muslim Progressive group which represents less than 1% Muslim populace of Canada and is FALSELY portrayed as official media reps of Islamic Community.

  31. It seems there is a bit of a prolem in the comment section realting to the heirarchy of rights. Canada is a post reformation based country that is secular in nature. I already object to any tax dolalrs beig spent on relgious schooling and I object to the tax exempt basis for religious foundations of any sort. This–in a public school system is utterly unacceptable to me and should be to any right thinking person.

    Any religion should be a personal choice and should be kept private. You want to beleive in mystic unempiracle mumbo jumbo–be it hindu, christian or islam–go right ahead. I think you happen to be crazy–but go ahead. Just don’t try to impose it on anyone else and don’t expect me to enable institutions with my taxes to bend over for your –frankly–unsupportable worldview.

    The sheer gall in a group of people coming to a country that has as its greatest stregth a secular equality under law and founded on peace and order and then attempting to subvert those ideas is mind boggling.

    You don’t get to use free expression to curtail free expression. You don’t get to practice a faith in a public institution using public facilities when it flies in the face of the foundational concepts of the country you are in.

    You want to pledge allegiance to some metaphysical imaginary friend–go right ahead–just do it on your own time and in your own place.

    You want Friday off to go and worship–go ahead. Just don’t expect anyone to adapt to the degree where we have to compromise the basic principals that have actually worked to create a great country in service to your little worldview.

  32. Attention, all new imports. Please leave all your garbage outside this country before you enter. My ancestors left the Old World to come here for a reason, and stuff like this was a big part of their decision to split.

  33. Muslim women on this forum, who feel comfortable being treated as second class and defend being dumped in the back rows with barriers separating them from their superior ‘brothers’, need to know a simple fact about equity, equality and universal human rights:

    “Girls should not be segregated on public school property and treated as inferior to boys, even if these girls desire such second class status by invoking a misogynist reading of Islam.”

    Today, many non-Arab Muslims have bought into the racial theory that they are second class to Arab Muslims and that this racial discrimination is divinely ordained. This belief in one’s inferiority does not mean Canada’s laws should respect such medieval nonsense.

    In the the 1960s, Canadians brought an end to the Duplessis era in Quebec where the Catholic Church ruled the school system and moulded the minds of the students. Today, we cannot allow a mosque in Thornclifee area of Toronto to takeover a public school to control the minds of its Muslim students.

  34. Anyone ever ask why women pray behind men? Do those who comment negativly understand how Islamic prayer proceeds?

    I don’t think so

  35. While I agree with the author, why is Islam singled out. What about Catholicism and how girls cannot grow up to be priests?

  36. I can’t expect much more from a propaganda artist.

    2 times I’ve made comments, without the use of foul language and making a reasonable argument. Author deleted both times. Have fun brainwashing your readers.

    • Obviously your name isn’t David.

      Maybe it’s Dawood ?

  37. When I was still in public school a few years ago we had a system similar to this. Every so often a cleric would come to school and preach to us. On certain religious holidays he would perform the neccessary rituals. Attendence was compulsory for everyone, except for a few students of another religion.
    It was a public elementary school in the West Island of Montreal circa 2000 and the religion was Catholicism. The ‘certain religious holidays’ were Advent and Ash wednesday and the ‘neccessary rituals’ were advent candles and ash crosses written on students’ foreheads. The ‘other religion’, btw, was Islam, and not Protestantism.
    The hyperbolic outrage at the news of the situation in Toronto seems to me incredibly hypocritical. Public schools have involved religion until very, very recently, and on a much more pervasive scale than we’re seeing here. Have Islamic materials been installed on the classroom walls? Are all the students expected to participate, or at least watch while the majority do? No. Rather, a religious ceremony has been made available to those who want to attend it. If any discrimination is occuring here it is self-inflicted. I seriously doubt that muslim girls who do not want to attend the ceremony and be ‘discriminated against’ are being forced to. Of course, there’s the very real chance that if she doesn’t attend she might be punished by her parents, but you know, if that’s the case is it’s a completely different problem altogether.

  38. What about secular or moderate Muslims who send their kids to public schools precisely because they believe in separation of church and state? Who is sticking up for their right to NOT participate in this lame, politically-correct exercise in tolerating the intolerant? A lot of Muslim parents emigrated to Canada because they want their children, especially their daughters, to grow up in a climate of gender equality. The kids attend a public school and, make no mistake, are being coerced or pressured to march in lockstep with this highly discriminatory practice of gender segregation (AND ostracism for girls having their periods). What’s next? They’ll be forbidden to eat lunch during Ramadan? Only allowed to eat halal food? That is not the school’s decision–the school should neither enforce nor faciliatate the practice of a strict interpretation of Islam.

  39. In good paternalistic fashion, here we are speaking on behalf of the girls as if they are too stupid to speak for themselves. Not a SINGLE girl has been contacted or asked for comment in ANY of the articles that have come out on this topic. Not even one.

    In addition, judging from the standard go back where you came from comments, this seems more about trashing Muslims which happens to be a pasttime for some – and business as usual for others (Tarek Fatah) than any so called concern for the same girls you have not even talked to.

    All we are doing is perpetuating the narrative that Muslims – their kids – their outward symbols – are just not welcome and this is exactly what radicals feed off of.

    By the way – we gender discriminate in schools by having separate bathrooms do we not?

  40. I guess its okay to segregate boys on public school property as long as the segregation does not involve Muslims? Why does Maclean’s not talk about or mention Brebeuf High School for example. It’s an all boy’s, publically funded, Catholic school. It’s segregated, religiously separated and publically funded.

    The problem with Maclean’s opposition to accommodating Muslims at Valley Park is that the opposition is not based on fact, logic or merit. Maclean’s opposition is an excuse to further its small minded agenda of trying to de-legitimize Muslims in Canada.

    When the Ontario government abolishes the Catholic school board and treats all religions the same; only then would it be reasonable to have a logically discussion about religion in publically funded school.

    Joe the Plumber