Students at Valley Park Middle School in Toronto are mainly Muslims.  The school allows the students to use the cafeteria for 30 minutes to pray in congregation. At a recent prayer meeting there were about 300 students.

Now here’s the problem.  Muslim girls who wish to take part must sit behind the boys, while girls who are menstruating must sit at the very back.

Does not the segregation of girls in a public space violate gender-equality norms that are at the heart of Canada’s institutions?  Why shouldn’t girls be up  front and centre?  And why should classmates know when girls of 13 are menstruating?

A school official said the school administration does not tell people how to practise their faith.

Is segregating genders so that students can pray in a school cafeteria is surely not the best solution, especially when you consider there is a mosque within walking distance of the school.

Should women take a back seat at prayer?

What do you think?


  1. 1
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    Fascinating question.

    While people are free to practise any type of religion they want — including one that discriminates — in this case the practise is occuring on public property…and that may make all the difference in the world.

    Section 28 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms reads:

    28. Notwithstanding anything in this Charter, the rights and freedoms referred to in it are guaranteed equally to male and female persons. ”

    So even though freedom of religion is guaranteed in another part of the Charter (section 2), this section says that nothing can effect the equality between the sexes.

    So unless the group wants to move down the street to the Mosque, the girls must nor be segregated.

  2. 2

    WOW! I am 100% with Tony on this one. Maybe so…maybe no.
    I am trying to put it in another framework. Because of religion- Female children are being mutilated. That should never happen here! Because of religion, there are honour murders of women. That should never happen here…so it follows that because of religion, on public property women should not be segregated here.
    (I say “here” only within the context of this discussion).
    I wonder if immigrant women & children are properly instructed on their rights here, so they can grow up and make a real choice for themselves (as Heidi pointed out on another blog.) That gave me much food for thought, regarding “rights” & “choice”. We live in this wonderful country where we are usually given a variety of scenarios & information to be able to make an informed choice. Not so elsewhere.
    Worship should be taken out of public places. Most public schools (in Quebec) do not have any religious instruction-only morals & ethics, so why should anyone be allowed to pray?

  3. 3

    Tony said it. When there is a mosque just down the street, why are the children praying in a school?

  4. 4
    Jim Says:

    A committee of Muslim women and wife beaters decided that it would be nice to do the nooners (praying, that is) in school somewhere, as ankleing down to the muskie mosque was spiritually dampening during winter. So they approached the head honcho who decided that 300 required the biggest room in the school, where they could do the bends, and that was the slop room. He explained to the pseudo KKK clan that they could used it for half an hour before the gorging mob made the scene. The only stipulation was that the cafeteria would become holy ground and that it would cease to be public property, as long as they were into the alleluias. The ladies and the men then closed the doors and voila, they had an instant mosque with an aroma of pork from the kitchen. BTW I think that sitting at the back of the room was the best place to be, to missile spitballs. On the other hand in christian schools I preferred to sit at the front of the room, so I could look back, and up the skirts of the girls to see if I could see their snapper.It never happened, all I ever saw were bloomers with moth holes in them. Every now and then Sister Alonzo would let go with a missile, aka blackboard brush. Now this brush had a hard side to it and a soft side. If she didn’t hitt me on the head with hard side, she would come down to my desk and try to pull my ears off. As near as I can see, there is nothing wrong with scene at Valley Park School. The nation must stay out of the temporary mosques

  5. 5
    Tony Kondaks Says:


    Yeah, I remember when I had my first beer…

  6. 6

    Tony: I was sitting here, reading one of the comments, and shaking my head (yes, it rattles) and your comment popped up.
    Thanks, I needed to be assured that I was on the right planet!

    PS: Just “funnin”.

  7. 7
    Neil McKenty Says:

    Originally th e children walked to thenear-by mosque at n oon. But so many of them then did not come back to school that the school authorities moved the prayer service to the school cafeteria. But it is a public space. And, as To ny says, it should not be used for segregated prayer services.

  8. I also agree with Tony. Second time this year, what’s going on?

  9. 9

    You are evolving, Paul.

    Stick around me and you’ll be a libertarian before you know it.

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