The second public school district in Washington state in less than a week was warned that it must “cease and desist” its promotion of Islam through its Ramadan policy that gives Muslim students special privileges.
The Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund (FCDF) sent the superintendent and school board of Northshore School District (NSD) – located in Bothell, Washington, just 30 minutes from Seattle – a “cease-and-desist” letter demanding that officials put an end to their special Ramadan policy or face legal action.
FCDF Executive Director Daniel Piedra condemned the policy instructing faculties to make special accommodations for Muslim students during the Islamic holiday season.
“The school district’s so-called Ramadan ‘accommodations’ run roughshod over the First Amendment and are a blatant insult to students of other faiths,” Piedra argued in a statement on FCDF’s website. “Under the mantle of ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusion,’ school officials have exalted Islam as the state-sponsored religion. Teachers and parents are outraged, and they should be.”
NSD’s “Diversity & Equity Department” issued school officials its directive to make Muslim students feel comfortable as they receive special privileges not extended to students of other faiths.
“[The policy is designed to ensure Muslim students] have the right accommodations and support from teachers and their peers] during the Ramadan period,” district the department explained, calling schools to go out of their way to let students conduct their month-long Islamic rituals during Ramadan – which started [the week of May 5.]
A extensive list of ways for teachers to treat Muslim students like a privileged class were outlined. “[Plan in advance with Muslim students to allow them to] quietly slip away [for prayer to] avoid calling unwanted attention to them,” the NSD’s Ramadan guidelines read. “When planning school activities and events, think about how it will impact practicing Muslim students [by asking], ‘Will they feel left out? and ‘Will they feel pressured to break their fast before sunset or Iftar (breaking of fast)?’”
In addition, teachers are expected to incorporate teachings of the Islamic faith into their lesson plans. “A brief mention of Ramadan or a lesson on it may promote the feeling of inclusivity [because] [m]any Muslim students may feel embarrassed to be specially accommodated,” the guidelines continue. “Privately offer information about nutritional adaptations [to Muslim students while they fast during the day.”
“[Create] comfortable [safe spaces for Muslim students with] books, magazines and other things to keep students busy,” the guidelines direct school officials. “[Teachers,] if you are aware of practicing Muslim students in your school and are still unsure about how to support them during Ramadan, don’t hesitate to ask them privately what they need.”
The [FCDF] letter also makes it clear that public school officials are prohibited from favoring a particular religion at school.
[TBC: For decades U.S. school districts have marginalized Christian students, at times not even allowing Bible clubs and Bible study groups to meet after school hours on school property.]