Peel school board issues fact sheet to ‘quell misinformation’ on religious accommodation

While unlikely to change the minds of those spreading misinformation, it is nevertheless appropriate to counter misleading or inaccurate information:

The Peel District School Board issued a fact sheet Wednesday to quell “misinformation and errors” it says are circulating in the community and on social media regarding religious accommodation.

It’s the school board’s response to a campaign to end the accommodation of Muslim prayer in schools, launched by self-described “concerned parents” and Canada First, a group whose mission is to protest M-103, the federal Liberals’ “anti-Islamophobia” motion.

“The issue around religious accommodation and the legal requirement to provide prayer rooms has become confused, shall we say, by many people who are intentional in spreading misinformation,” board chair Janet McDougald told the Star.

“By putting it out in print . . . and communicating the actual facts, we’re hoping it will clarify the issue.

“But we are under no delusions that those that wish to spread prejudice and hate will continue to do so. I believe they have intentionally targeted this issue around religious accommodation to create unease.”

Parents behind the online petition declined to comment to the Star.

“Quite frankly, our board meeting agendas have been monopolized and disrupted by these very loud, albeit a minority, of people,” said McDougald. “There’s so much noise around this subject that people haven’t had the opportunity to sit down and say what this is really about.”

The school board doesn’t track how many Muslim students take part in Friday prayers.

“It varies by school,” said board spokesperson Brian Woodland. “Some have none, some have a few, some might have a hundred. Not all Muslim students request (to participate). It’s not a significant number compared to the student population.”

Religious accommodation, the fact sheet says, is required under the Ontario Human Rights Code. McDougald said the board has also had “several legal opinions about it and we’re on very firm ground here.”

The fact sheet points out that religious accommodation has been taking place in Peel schools for over 15 years.

“The Peel board does not tolerate any campaigns that discriminate against a faith,” the sheet says.

It has been “frustrating and disheartening” to see hatred and prejudice toward a single faith group disguised in a supposed campaign about religion in schools, the board said in a public statement.

“This is a campaign against Islam — counter to the laws of the country, the Ontario Human Rights Code and our board values.”

Source: Peel school board issues fact sheet to ‘quell misinformation’ on religious accommodation | Toronto Star

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About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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