Group to oppose SDUSD support program for Muslim students

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — Opponents of a new San Diego Unified School District program intended to combat Islamophobia in San Diego schools are scheduled to protest during a public comment period.

In an email sent to reporters, Citizens for Quality Education-San Diego said they opposed the implementation of "anti-American Sharia Law policies" at local schools.

The program is the result of direction by the board last July to address discrimination against Muslim students and their families, who trustees said are more likely to be bullied than other students.

Between July 1 and Dec. 31 last year, there were seven reported incidents of harassment based on religion in San Diego Unified schools, according to a district presentation. By comparison, there were 36 based on race and 21 on sex during the same period.

The program includes ensuring Muslim holidays are acknowledged on staff calendars, setting up professional staff development training on awareness of and advocating for Muslim culture, providing resources to students during Ramadan, and giving teachers history and social science materials, among other things. Over several years, the school board plans to consider high school clubs that promote American-Muslim culture. 

The plan was approved 4-0 in April.

The district said it is not endorsing Islam or favoring a religion over another. 

"Schools with large Muslim communities may choose to make areas available for prayer, if that is requested by their parents and students," the district said. "However, this is no more or less than we would do to accommodate Christians who want to pray at school, or members of other faiths. It is not uncommon, for example, for our schools to have a prayer club that meets before the start of school."

In its statement, Citizens for Quality Education said it objected to several steps being taken under the program, including establishing a partnership with the San Diego chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

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