York University Orders Teacher To Accommodate Muslim Who Wants No Interaction With Women

Unknown150px-muslim_woman_in_yemenThere is an interesting story out of Canada’s York University and raises the question again with the extent to which business and institutions must accommodate religious values or practices. Professor Paul Grayson at York University was shocked when the university ordered him to allow a graduate student to skip a required part of the curriculum because he did not want any contact with women for religious purposes. He disobeyed the orders of his superiors in refusing the accommodation and could be disciplined for his decision (which was made with the support of his faculty).

We just discussed that subject in relation to a U.S. trucking company that was told by the Obama Administration not to require Muslims to ship products with any alcohol or pork. Likewise, a British store allowed employees to decline to help customers buying alcohol.

In this case, a York student wrote Grayson to say that he objected to the online in-person requirement of the online course in sociology: a student-run focus group. The student said that he was required to work online to avoid contact with women as a good Muslim: “One of the main reasons that I have chosen internet courses to complete my BA is due to my firm religious beliefs. It will not be possible for me to meet in public with a group of women (the majority of my group) to complete some of these tasks.” Grayson forwarded the message to the schools dean and the director for the Center for Human Rights. They came back with an order to comply with the student’s request and not require him to be in the presence of females. The vice dean noted that distant students are not required to be on campus and, while this student can, he could be treated as if he were in another country. The school reportedly admitted that the decision was made in consultation with legal counsel. Grayson objected that the exception for the other students was due to their inability not unwillingness to be present.

That triggered a debate between religious rights and women’s rights. Grayson objected that “York is a secular university. It is not a Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, or Moslem university. In our policy documents and (hopefully) in our classes we cling to the secular idea that all should be treated equally, independent of, for example, their religion or sex or race . . . Treating Mr. X equally would mean that, like other students, he is expected to interact with female students in his group.” Grayson asked what would be done with a student who claimed a religious avoidance of black people.

What is most striking is that various Islamic professors said that there is absolutely no religious basis for refusing to interact with females. One Islamic scholar wrote “[u]nless he is asked to be physical with a female student, which I assume he isn’t, there is absolutely no justification for not interacting with females in public space.” Of course, we have seen a different view from places like Iran where the highest cleric has banned even interacting with females on social media sites.

However, the student later agreed to participate in the classes with women. Thus, it did not appear to be a religious prohibition even in the mind of this student. Yet, the University and its lawyers were willing to segregate students on the basis of such a request.

While the public backlash probably will protect him (as will his colleagues), Grayson stands in violation of a direct order of the University.

The incident raises again the degree to which institutions should accommodate religious views. In my view, this is different from student clubs, which are voluntary. What is striking is that such rules have been applied against religious clubs, while schools like Harvard have accommodated such religious objections in segregating other programs.

There are some legitimate religious objections in my view to the imposition of nondiscrimination rules, but when it comes to classes, the non-discrimination rules would seem to take clear preeminence. As academics, we preserve a special space for learning where freedom of thought and speech prevail. This community is based on pluralism and equality. For some groups to demand segregation in the name of tolerance should be anathema for our collective intellectual mission.

What do you think?

Source: The Star

41 thoughts on “York University Orders Teacher To Accommodate Muslim Who Wants No Interaction With Women

  1. Solution…. Lock the little creap in a box, in the back corner of the room…. With just an air hole in the top of the box

  2. This is outrageous.

    If One argued tha one I wanted no interaction with Muslims, for religious reasons of course, I doubt whether that desire would be accommodated. How about asking for special privileges because you don’t want to interact with blacks or Asians? If this man is so afraid of women he should exclude himself from going out into the public.

    We know that the next step here is segregating men from women and the excluding women because men of a certain pursuation cannot control themselves. York University is wrong, very wrong.

  3. There is one country that immediately comes to mind where he can stay away from women forever if he so desires…….Iran!!! Somehow I think this clown would not be so happy there.
    What a jerk. This earth will be a much better place when all religion is gone. I only wish I could live to see that day.

  4. Dredd,

    Yes!! What is wrong with using Skype? Why does he have to be physically present if this is an online course? If he lived in San Diego, CA or China, then, would the professor require him to make the trip?

    I can’t understand why faculty members would risk their tenured, jobs (this professor ‘stands in violation of a direct order’) over little ‘stuff’ (side note: according to the Chronicle of Higher Education, for every open, tenured faculty position, there are least 20-30 qualified applicants, interested and have sent hundreds of pages of CV/RESUMES/WRITING SAMPLES/RECOMMENDATIONS etc.).

    If your employer tells you to do something, then do it (if you don’t want to do it, then be prepared to put in your 2 weeks notice, because, as Professor JT has stated, there will be some form of retaliation by your employer, if you don’t comply.

  5. Some Muslims are already banned by western & even most eastern states. The governments call them terrorists; they call themselves martyrs; best identified by explosives around their person along with eastern dress. (unfortunately few will be that obvious!) We could expand the list of antisocial religious people that we don’t have to bend over backwards to appease. Its easy to condemn all Muslims because you think their leader was a warmongering antisocial arsehole, but not all followers are that way by a long shot. Even so, there has to be a proven crime to prosecute or kill, except for the obvious imminent danger which is defence of others or self. But identifying radical antisocial activity of some members of a religion actually protects the rights of other social members of that religion if done right. A little off the subject perhaps as there are no crimes here but one can go too far either way. This muslim is doing a disservice to all moderate muslims that get on okay all across the world.

  6. Civil law sets the bottom requirement for every person in a society. Religions may offer an increase in rights to individuals. But religions may not take away the civil rights or violate the civil law for members of society.

    I see birth control as the same type of example. The Catholic church may not accept Caesar’s coin and tax exemption while refusing the civil rights of women.

    This is not AD 1200. Canada and the US must confront inequality of persons in their societies. Their governments must protect equality, not fold in the presence of injustice because a religion requires it. These are civil, not religious societies and need to start acting as such.

  7. I wish the EEOC were as concerned with the rights of older workers who are veterans as well. Instead they simply spit on airline pilots who were discriminated against when they turned 60 and were fired. Even though there is a law that mandates the company offer other employment for veterans, they chose to ignore that law completely. Even when the pilots knew of the law and filed timely complaints, they ignored them. I guess they might have had a better chance if they had claimed to be Muslim, black, or Latino. Knowing now the laws on discrimination, I would have claimed to be Hispanic in the course of my working life. Ward Churchill got away with claiming to be Native American since the only proof required is the identification of the person involved. So if you say you are Hispanic or black, that is all it takes. It sure would have helped me in getting hired at the airlines back when I started.

  8. The words “I believe” are used to excuse every kind of human behavior imaginable. What seems to be changing is the willingness to object to magic-thinking using the most strenuous language, particularly among those under age 45 or so. “Church exemptions,” one hazards, will eventually end, so long as America does not go down the silly anti-blasphemy road.

  9. He was taking an online course to avoid contact with women. I would suspect that he is trying very much to hold to the morals of his faith and while yet unmarried, and a young man, it is a challenge to him. He is going the extra mile in the practice of his faith(normal interaction is not prohibited religiously). I don’t think the accommodation was outrageous, but I do think this kid is living in a dream world if he thinks he can avoid girls that are tempting for the rest of his adult years.

    I think that a discussion with a parent or other authority figure got him straightened out, but ultimately, there are a lot more women who are taking online courses to avoid contact with men-and most here would not degrade them for it, they would probably pity them or think they were forced into that choice.

  10. It is rather difficult to argue the requested accommodation is unreasonable when other students in the same program are permitted to avoid the requirement. While the required interaction may be beneficial, it is clearly not essential.

  11. Sorry Houstonian, but most women are taking on line courses because they are at home and have other obligations such as taking care of kids, or are working. In fact, back in the day, most women went to college to get a degree and a hubby of suitable education and status.

    I would encourage this Muslim to avoid women and I hope that he never marries. We have quite enough of religious fanatics, and we do NOT need to breed more. I would also make sure that no conservative Muslim woman gets into Canada any more to preclude him from getting a mail order Muslim wife.

  12. Houstonian,

    It is such a sad idea that a man can not see a woman without thinking about her as sexual “temptress”. How about men start looking at us as their fellow human being, as friends, fellow citizens, fellow students?

    What is it about religions who believe when a man sees a woman the only response he could ever have is the desire to have sex with her? Further, what is so evil about sex? Sex without consent is rape. Obviously, that is wrong. But sexuality between people who wish to be together without coercion is not evil. Why do so many religions hate honest, open, free sexual expression? That’s such a sad, awful way of looking at sexuality and other human beings.

  13. Would someone try to find my post under “NSA refuses to confirm” post by JT, for me please? It is very important information. It won’t even show in comments that I’ve asked to find the post. ARGGG!

  14. Bank of America works with fusion centers, the FBI, state and local police, and campus security to monitor public protest in the United States, newly disclosed documents confirm.

    A Washington state public records request has unearthed an email chain which includes a message from a Vice President of Global Corporate Security for Bank of America, describing efforts to combat economic justice organizing. The official explains that the powerful financial institution employs a staff of 20 full-time social media spies, and references public-private surveillance efforts directed at activists who aim to hold banks accountable for social crises like the foreclosure disaster.

  15. Go back to ….. (fill in blank____________) (pirate territory where he came from). Accommodate the school. With hold all revenues paid in taxes by females. That is about 50%. The school is wrong and needs to be punished.

  16. From Wikipedia
    Misogyny /mɪˈsɒdʒɪni/ is the hatred or dislike of women or girls. Misogyny can be manifested in numerous ways, including sexual discrimination, denigration of women, violence against women, and sexual objectification of women.[1][2] Misogyny has been characterised as a prominent feature of the mythologies of the ancient world as well as of various religions. In addition, many influential Western philosophers have been described as misogynistic.[1] The counterpart of misogyny is misandry, the hatred or dislike of men; the antonym of misogyny is philogyny, the love or fondness of women.

  17. Were I a woman in his school I would go out of my way to interact with him. Does he never find himself face to face with a female clerk in a store? a woman bus driver? wait til he has to visit a medical office!!

  18. “the right of free exercise does not relieve an individual of the obligation to comply with a valid and neutral law of general applicability on the ground that the law proscribes (or prescribes) conduct that his religion prescribes (or proscribes).”

    Employment Division, Department of Human Resources of Oregon vs. Smith, 494 U.S. 872 (1990)

  19. Suzanne, How the hell did he get through K-12, 80% of teachers are female. Of course, that’s the US. But still, he had to have had women teachers previously.

  20. Suzanne, How the hell did he get through K-12, 80% of teachers are female. Of course, that’s the US. But still, he had to have had women teachers previously. This doesn’t add up.

  21. Does this student realize what he got himself into when he signed up for this Sociology course; that is maybe there might be a chance he would have to deal with ~51% of the world being women in a social environment?

    There is the notion of “reasonable accomodation”. His request is not reasonable.

  22. The professor took quite a risk, but I do agree that any university should be able to mandate class participation, as long as it does not violate the law. How does this student think he was conceived? By air mail?

  23. This is up there with the Law Professor yesterday. At what point does an institutions need to accommodate cross the line into ludicrous? At what point does the student need to show some personal responsibility for his situation? If he wants to be a hermit where women are concerned – he should go to a school where there are no women or take online classes.

  24. Cheryl, he needs to leave Canada, and go back to Saudi Arabia. It is not up to Canada to conform to Muslim norms. Time to purge the US and Canada of people who cannot conform to our laws, and deport them back home. If they are natives, then we cannot do much other than ignore them and encourage them to leave to go to some place where they will be happier.

  25. I agree with randyjet. If a muslim does not want to interact with women, the last places they should go to “live” is Canada or America. Additionally, I am an American Indian. My ancestors lost their lives and land for the freedoms that we have. I will not let any visitor to this country try to take away our freedoms. I do not ever hear about Kareem Abdul Jabbar or Muhammud Ali making any more demands on us than to respect them and that they have these religious beliefs.

  26. I agree with Randyjets recent comment above. What will be fun to watch is when some Sunni says he can not take class with a Luni or one of those other sects. Then women will object to being with a bigot muslim. Gee, doesn’t this get back to when Jim Crow did not want to sit with Percy Green on the front seat of a bus?

  27. This is off topic but is that not Ben Franklin sitting in the front row of the photo of the painting up there at the top of this page? Lower left side. Front row, second from left side.

  28. BarkinDog, I think you’re right. That looks like Franklin to me. And if he were blogging today, he’d say that capitulating to religious lunacy is stupid, as stupid as the recently noted majority of American self identified Conservatives who don’t “believe” in evolution. Religious whackos, of all stripes, will be the end of our civilization.

  29. Im more concerned about what the current US administration is doing to attract fanatics to migrate here , by doing things like ordering a shipping company not to require Muslim workers to carry alcohol , than what York is doing . People like Einstein come here for the opposite reasons than what Obama administration seems to think makes the US a magnet for mentally advanced immigrants !

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