TDSB opens door to religious-based class exemptions

exemptToronto’s Donwood Park in Scarborough and the Toronto District School Board originally have paved the way for religious-based class exemption for students who have to opt out of music and art class due to a conflict with their religion. Initially TDSB recommended accommodation – suggesting students could just clap their hands in place of playing instruments or listen to Acapella (Acappella music is specifically group or solo singing without instrumental accompaniment) versions of “O Canada”, but a group of parents outright rejected that possibility.

Many of these parents insisted that they could not allow their children to be in the same room where musical instruments are being played. It is haram they told school authorities. A Koran teacher then consulted with national Islamic bodies, and requested a letter from the leader of his mosque.

In Ontario’s music class is a mandatory subject in the primary-school curriculum.

One parent pushed for the exclusion for his own children by invoking the prospect of litigation and the religious freedoms clause of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

School administrators did their best to reasonably accommodate the wishes of these parents, they consulted with scholars and lawyers on how best the issue could be resolved. One idea was to have the children “research the role of nashid” – or the Islamic tradition of oral music. Another was to have the children clap out quarter notes, half notes and full notes.

“Your children will not be required to play a musical instrument or sing in their music class,” read a formal note to at least one family.

Art, music and drama are three of the subjects that many parents of children in schools across the GTA believe is ‘inappropriate’ given their religious beliefs. – CINEWS

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