Protest re Muslim prayers in TDSB school for July 25th at 5:30pm

Apparently, there will be a public protest at the Toronto District School Board’s headquarters (at 5050 Yonge Street) on July 25th at 5:30pm. For a map, check out this link. The protest, I assume, is to demand that the TDSB cancel the Friday Muslim prayer service at Valley Park Middle School. As such, I would recommend as many people attend as possible — as opposed to only those who have an official religious affiliation — if Ontarians want to send a message to provincial politicians and TDSB trustees and administrators. 

As regular readers know, I have been following this topic for several days now (see here and here). See also this Google link on the latest news — indicating the topic is finally getting broad-based media coverage.

Interestingly, this whole discussion has caused me to rethink the possibility of parent “choice” for public school funding because, frankly, for the past few years I have been in favour of that concept and supported the notion of faith-based funding in the last Ontario election in October 2007.

However, as a result of this latest issue, and the discussions it has generated, I have modified my support to include only subject specialty programs and schools — such as those geared to academic excellence, for the visual arts, sports, music and so on. For example, in terms of the faith-based option, check out Paul Bennett’s blog discussion here, where, as of this writing, his post had received 141 comments.  Meaning, as the 2007 election showed, Ontarians do not want their taxes used for any kind of faith based initiatives in public schools! 

The key point to remember is that, during that fall 2007 election campaign, the Ontario Liberals said such a policy was wrong because it would be divisive. Yet, here we are in Dalton McGuinty’s Ontario, and we are learning that his government has done absolutely nothing to stop the TDSB’s practice of providing Muslims with time and space to pray in public schools — referred to as accommodations — as well as permitting a 40 minute prayer service at Valley Park Middle School shortly after the lunch break on Friday afternoon.

Talk about hypocrisy and being divisive.

Perhaps, however, there could be a compromise. As I have mentioned before, Eden High School in St. Catharines is allowed to hold chapel services before the official day starts. Perhaps that is a solution for the Muslims and other religious groups — permit them to provide short services early in the morning or after the official school day ends. Yes, they would be using public school property. But, then, we also have a separate school system that is representative of one religion, Catholic, using public funding and public property.

Something to think about.

Endnote: For the Ontario PC Party to say they don’t want to revisit the faith-based funding issue is understandable. But, to suggest such decisions are up to public school boards is both a cop-out and cowardly. It is up to politicians to decide!So, I hope they eventually take a principled stand on this issue if for no other reason than gender equality. In the Valley Park case in point, there are allegations that girls are being treated like second class citizens by being separated from the boys and on the basis of whether or not they are menstruating. Surely, the PCs don’t condone that happening on the public dime.

9 thoughts on “Protest re Muslim prayers in TDSB school for July 25th at 5:30pm

  1. Ahahaha u people make me laugh my butt off! you have so much time on your hands to write this entire article and bring humanity towards hating each other.
    anytime the word ‘muslim’ or ‘islam’ comes up- it is suddenly synonymous with ‘terrorist’, and that is really hurting to 100% of the muslims due to the lack of knowledge you have of the actual religion. It may be a person’s culture you don’t like, but it doesn’t mean its their religion.
    Islam is in practice by probably most countries of the world- but at the same time, all countries and ethnic groups have different cultures. Just because a Jordan or Indian muslim does something one way, doesn’t mean all muslims are like that. Its their culture.
    As to the girls behind boys thing- do your research. Islam is not about dividing men and women- before Islam girls had never been equal to men. Islam brought in to all muslims and countries of the world the realization that girls and boys are equal, both should get education and should work. Those muslims who do not practice that is due to their culture- not because of them being muslim.
    Anyways, back to my point- the reason girls are behind boys is because the way they conduct their prayers is by standing, kneeling, and sitting next to and behind each other in long straight lines. Paying attention to prayers is very important. If girls were to be situated in front of boys, when they kneel, it is inappropriate for boys to be able to see their behinds., and therefore, it may distract them from their prayers..I know it sounds gushy or whatever, but it is a fact which no one can deny. That is the only reason. As to girls who are menstruating to be at the back..I never heard of that one. But I know that girls who are menstruating are ‘impure’. In order to pray, one needs to be ‘pure’- which means they should be clean- wash themselves before they pray. If they are to bleed, they need to clean themselves again. But since girls are menstruating, I believe they do not pray during those times- but I never heard them being behind- even so, it makes sense.
    Basically, please be respectful to others’ religions and learn about them. Every religious group has their own way of doing things. And I believe all religions teach good, not bad. Just because one does it differently than the other doesn’t mean its wrong or you should be against it. Honestly, go do actual research- in the library or published journals. Maybe you will learn something and not be brainwashed by all this media. And I don’t blame you, as we get brainwashed easily here- to go buy things which in the end don’t turn out the way you expected it to be. Thats the same with the information you get without knowing the actual facts.


  2. Mike — You missed the whole point of the discussion completely. This issue is about fairness and equity with public dollars in public schools. It is not about Islam, per se. Plus, I disagree with you’re suggesting that when a girl is menstruating, she is unclean. She is not. It is normal reproductive function that is required in order for females to eventually get pregnant and have babies.

    In other words, I would take the exact same position if a prayer service was for a Christian, Jewish, Hindu or Buddhist group.

    Unless the government of Ontario is going to allow all major faiths to have this type of “accommodation,” it is not right.

    And, in fact, it is by allowing one faith the “during school time” prayer priviledge, that is encouraging hate, not someone who complains about it. Complaining about my writing about is nothing short of misguided political correctness. Open debate is the essence of a democracy!

    So, who actually is the one to have an axe to grind here? Sure, you’ll get the fanatics out at this protest. Of that I have no doubt. But, the issue is turning back the clock on women’s rights and what should not be happening in the secular public system.

    The bottom line is that the Valley Park Middle School Muslim prayer service should be cancelled until fair multi-faith and gender equitable policies are implemented.


  3. Religion is a private ideological matter. It makes no more sense to have it inside the school day than inviting Marxists or Fascists or Liberals for that matter to preach in school during the school day.

    Having and idea within the school day, and not open to debate but presented as dogma, gives the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval of the state and the nation to that ideology. We can all see how deeply it is resented by other religions, exactly the way RC funding is deeply resented by other religions and free thinkers as well.

    The ONLY way to handle religion and education is to keep it 100% outside publically funded education.

    I grew up in the United Church. Admittedly we were not a fundamentalist religion, we did not even have the 10 Commandments, we had the 10 Suggestions. We did have something called Sunday school and we had clubs for various ages through the week AT NIGHT. This is the proper place for religion.


  4. Doug — “The ONLY way to handle religion and education is to keep it 100% outside publically funded education. ”

    I hear you but I don’t think it is going to be as simple as that anymore. Accommodations will have to be made at some point in some way, particularly given the Catholic system. It simply is no longer feasible that you have one completely secular system and one completely Catholic system. Since faith-based funding of public schools is not likely in my lifetime, some other model will have to considered. However, there is no way the Catholics are going to give up what they have without a fight and without an alternative.

    During the 2007 Ontario election, I wrote many posts on the FB funding issue. After the election I deleted them. So, unfortunately, I can’t link back to them. But, what I noticed the most were the comments from detractors that had a fear that Muslims would use public money to instill their biases. And, that seems to be exactly what happened a year after that vote — since we are now being told the Valley Park Muslim prayer program has been going on for three years.

    However, I still think the before or after school option would be viable, at precisely the same time as there instrumental music, tutoring and heritage languages programs. By doing that, the options would at least be equitable, even for Catholics.

    When I was teaching university I did a fair bit of research on the establishment of the Catholic system. Contrary to what many claim, there were never any guaranteea that there had to be separate “system” in perpetuity — although many interpret things that way. It was just that there had to be Catholic, as well as Methodist, opportunities to study faith during the regular school day. So, the “public” system was Methodist (which eventually became the Methodist and United Church denominations) and the “separate” system was Catholic. Now, we have an athiest /humanist system and a Catholic system. Just doesn’t make sense given that is not how our society is broken down.


  5. Mike

    All religions have there way of doing things. True but some are wrong and all change over time. There was a time in the religion of my childhood when women were not treated equally. We fixed that in the 1920’s for God’s sake. Not treating women EXACTLY equally and exactly the same is evil whether inside religion or outside. All male clergy is the clearest sign of a total lack of respect for women. Because some things are normalized within a culture does not make them right, it makes them backward and primative like having male only priests and clergy.

    Some religions say girls can be married off in forced marriages at puberty. So what- it is wrong no matter who says it.

    Religion was WRONG about Galileo, wrong about creationism, wrong about the Inquisition, the Crusades, witches, Jews, homosexuals, and on and on. They have been wrong more often than right in the past and they are still perpetuating nonsense today.

    You want to believe that nonsense go ahead but not on the public dime.


  6. There is a group within the NDP, primarily on the left wing of the party but not only there, that opposes the RC school system or any religious school system. They raise the issue at almost every convention. The leaders then stand up and say, elimination of the RC system would set off a political blood bath in Ontario and be suicidal for the NDP since it wins most of its seats in heavily catholic areas (Windsor, Hamilton, northern Ontario, west end of Toronto, Niagara, Ottawa).

    You will not see the NDP promote the end of the RC system notwithstanding the fact that 70% would vote to abolish it.

    I think a clever political party would promote a referendum on the ending of the RC system. Then all could see how much support it had and where.


  7. Sandy: You ought to read George Lakoff on politics. His best known book is “Don’t Think of an Elephant”

    He believes centrists, moderates … are not in the middle on every issue at all but tend to agree with the left on a series of issues mainly education, health and the environment and the right on another series of issues mainly crime and punishment, military, taxes, … This causes them to take a centre political position overall whereas on each issue they are far from the centre.


  8. Doug — re your comment at 6:30pm. You are probably right 😉 in that, as a so-called “centrist” I am noticing I have very little patience these days with generalized statements that the entire education system is corrupt or whatever, that there is a severe lack of curriculum know-how, leadership, subject specialists, you name it. Is the Ontario education system perfect? Not by a long shot. But, it never has been. Some look back with rose coloured glasses I’m afraid. It’s a human institution run by and for humans. And, the political pressure from all sides right now must be incredible.

    Anyway, this Muslim prayer issue in the TDSB really worries me and has brought me back to my blog — for two reasons, fairness and gender equality. It is the Ontario Education Act versus the Human Rights Act versus the Charter. The Lord’s prayer was thrown out as were the Gideon Bibles that used to be donated to all Grade 4 classes. So, why all of a sudden Islam is exempt is really dangerous in the long run? I’m a practising Christian but I have to tell you, I agree with you that its probably better to leave the secular system completely secular, no exceptions. Religion should be in the home or private schools.

    So, I guess it is up to all of us here, SQE and at Paul Bennett’s EduChatter, to keep this discussion going so that McGuinty, Hudak and Horwath are all forced to deal with it.


  9. To Kelly, you clearly did not read what I wrote. No hate here. Moreover, no “you people.” I do this blog myself. Oh and one other thing, you should not be leaving such “hate” messages from your workplace. Remember, bloggers have site meters that show IP addresses.


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