Okay so here’s the thing. In keeping with gender equality and to provide girls the opportunity to play soccer, the ROPSSAA, the soccer association’s constitution stipulates that female athletes can play on boys’ sports teams if a school does not have a girls’ team. Robert F. Hall a Catholic school in Caledon is one such school that had a game with ISNA Islamic High School. There were two girls on the team and during the half-time break ISNA coach Essa
Abdool-Karim approached the referee and said his team would forfeit the game if Briscoe and teammate, Alissa Condontta, returned to play due to religious beliefs prohibiting physical contact with unrelated members of the opposite sex.
ROPSSAA chair Paul Freier said it is the first time a situation like this occurred in the 10 years he’s been involved in the sports association, which includes 68 public, Catholic and independent schools and involves 35 sports.
The two girls were benched and the game proceeded, ISNA lost 6-1, but it was more than just the game that the school lost. It put into the spotlight once again the issue of reasonable accommodation. Could the Muslim private school reasonably accommodate the issue of gender equality? Ensuring a level playing field for all religions is what we all enjoy, it is non-negotiable. The question is should equality of sexes also be non-negotiable? What if some school decided not to play against a team that had a couple of openly gay or atheist team players, would that be tolerated? What would happen if one religious group decided it would not play against another religious group. It’s a slippery slope.