Friday, March 24, 2017

Texas high school opens Muslim prayer room

For decades the ACLU and allied groups fought to get Christian prayer out of American public schools. They were successful. But now prayer is coming back into the schools, and as long as it's Islamic prayer, it seems to be fine with everyone. This does, however, reinforce the principle of Sharia that Muslims have rights and privileges to which non-Muslims are not entitled.

A prayer room at a Texas high school is raising legal concerns and the state's attorney general's office in a letter on Friday to school district's superintendent indicated the school's policy should be neutral toward religion.

Liberty High School's prayer room, which is reportedly dedicated to students who practice Islam, allows the students to pray at the school on Fridays instead of leaving to say their required prayers. The letter cites the school's own news site, which focused on the prayer room.

In a letter Friday to the the Frisco Independent School District, the Texas attorney general's office outlined the legal concerns over the prayer room, indicating it may violate the First Amendment's protection of religious liberty.

"Liberty High School's policy should be neutral toward religion," the letter from Deputy Attorney General Andrew Leonie to Superintendent Jeremy Lyons said. "However, it appears that students are being treated different based on their religious beliefs. Such a practice, of course, is irreconcilable with our nation's enduring commitment to religious liberty."...

"Reports from Liberty's news site indicate that the prayer room is not available to students of all faiths. Instead, it appears that the prayer room is ‘dedicated to the religious needs of some students,' namely those who practice Islam," the letter reads....

"This is my seventh year at Liberty, my first year it kind of started when a core group of students were leaving campus every Friday for Friday prayer," said Principal Scott Warstler.

"Their parents would come pick them up, so they may miss an hour and a half to two hours to two and a half hours of school every Friday, so I met with those students and a couple of their parents and suggested if they would be okay if the students were able to lead the prayer at school as a group, and we gave them a space to do that so they didn't have to be in a car traveling thirty minutes each way on a Friday missing an hour, hour and a half, of class," said Warstler....


British universities told they must protect freedom of speech

Universities will be required to protect free speech across their campuses including inside the student union under plans being drawn up by the government.

Jo Johnson, minister for higher education, has written to universities saying that they will be compelled to include a clear commitment to freedom of speech in their governance documents to counter the culture of censorship and so-called safe spaces.

The letter, seen by The Times, said that it was the “legal duty” of universities to ensure as far as practicable that freedom of speech is secured for “members, students, employees and visiting speakers”. This meant that all university premises should not be “denied to any individual or body on any grounds connected with their beliefs or views, policy or objective”.

In the letter for dissemination to all universities to Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of Universities UK, Mr Johnson added: “It is important to note that the duty extends to both the premises of the university and premises occupied by the students’ unions, even when they are not part of the university premises.”

Safe space and no platform movements have swept across campuses, including a campaign to ban Germaine Greer from giving a speech after her “offensive” comments about transgender people.

Students are also the victims. Censorship has steadily increased at universities, with 94 per cent of campuses having some restrictions on freedom of expression, up from 90 per cent last year and 80 per cent in 2015.

Village People outfits, vicars and tarts parties, dressing up like chavs, gangsters or Mexicans and even Pocahontas outfits have been banned as offensive by some student unions.

Cardiff Metropolitan University is trying to ban terms such as “gentleman’s agreement” and “mankind” in case they cause offence.

The Higher Education and Research Bill gave powers to impose public interest principles on higher education providers, Mr Johnson said, and there will be a consultation starting shortly.

“As part of this, the government proposes to raise the issue of freedom of speech, with a view to ensuring that a principle underscoring the importance of free speech in higher education is given due consideration,” he wrote.

“Subject to the outcome of the consultation, this could require providers that are subject to a public interest governance condition to include a principle about freedom of speech principles in their governance documents.”

The higher education bill has run into opposition in the House of Lords. Peers said that it gave too much power to students, who would be able to contribute to a new ranking system.

They said that this power to rate could force university authorities to give in to student demands for more safe spaces, however unreasonable they may be, in order to be given good ratings.

Mr Johnson said that all institutions must have a code of practice setting out free speech procedures in connection with hosting meetings.

These codes of conduct should not be allowed to “gather dust”, he said, adding: “They are crucial in demonstrating to students that free speech should be at the heart of a higher education community.”


Australian high school students given option to select 'gender X' instead of 'male' or 'female' on official exam papers

In the Left-run State of Victoria

High school students who do not identify as male or female will now be able to list themselves as 'gender X' on official high school documents.

In the ruling made by the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA), students sitting their VCE and VCAL examinations will have a third option when it comes to listing their gender identity.

The move comes as Victorian transgender and intersex pupils feeling marginalised by the lack of identification on personal I.D forms, voiced their concerns to the education body.

But the decision has come under staunch opposition with some describing the it as a threat to 'bathroom usage.'

In announcing their ruling, VCAA expressed that their decision came with the support of schools and that the well-being of students was their priority.

'The inclusion of Gender X in student records is of importance to the health and welfare of individual students who do not identify as male or female.'

The rule would allow the VCAA to use gender X statistics to categorise a new subset of children - as young as 15 - as non male or female when it comes to VCE results. 

Education Minister for Victoria James Merlino supported the move arguing that it was a reflection of every student.

Opposition education spokesman Nick Wakeling however called on Premier Daniel Andrews to stop: 'pushing his radical gender and sexuality theories onto other people's children.'

Dan Flynn, Victorian director of the Australian Christian Lobby, also strongly opposed the decision, expressing concern that it could create safety issues within school bathrooms and change rooms.

'Boys are boys and girls are girls and there would be a fractional category of people who are truly intersex. We are also opening the door to say 'I don't want to be a male or a female, I want to be something else,' Mr Flynn told the Herald Sun. 

Adding that by having a third sex, same-sex sports teams would also be among those affected and that the decision is in direct contrast from the expectations of parents and the community. 

However executive director of Transgender Victoria Sally Goldner lashed out at Mr Flynn's comments that a 'gender X' would risk safety in toilets, describing it as a non-existent argument.

'There has never been a proven case (of misconduct) in Australia involving transgender people … in bathrooms. I really have to express my frustration that we keep having this 'nothing' debate,' she said.

Transgender Victoria however disagreed having the third option as 'gender x', rather calling on I.D forms to have four options: male, female, 'other please specify', and one allowing pupils to not answer.


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