Take a look at this photograph. It appeared in The Toronto Star’s education section on Saturday:
It’s the scene every Friday at the cafeteria of Valley Park Middle School in Toronto. That’s not a private academy, it’s a public school funded by taxpayers. And yet, oddly enough, what’s going on is a prayer service – oh, relax, it’s not Anglican or anything improper like that; it’s Muslim Friday prayers, and the Toronto District School Board says don’t worry, it’s just for convenience: They put the cafeteria at the local imams’ disposal because otherwise the kids would have to troop off to the local mosque and then they’d be late for Lesbian History class or whatever subject is scheduled for Friday afternoon.
The picture is taken from the back of the cafeteria. In the distance are the boys. They’re male, so they get to sit up front at prayers. Behind them are the girls. They’re female, so they have to sit behind the boys because they’re second-class citizens – not in the whole of Canada, not formally, not yet, but in the cafeteria of a middle school run by the Toronto District School Board they most certainly are.
And the third row? The ones with their backs to us in the foreground of the picture? Well, let the Star’s caption writer explain:
At Valley Park Middle School, Muslim students participate in the Friday prayer service. Menstruating girls, at the very back, do not take part.
Oh. As Kathy Shaidle says:
Yep, that’s part of the caption of the Toronto Star photo.
Yes, the country is Canada and the year is 2011.
Just so. Not some exotic photojournalism essay from an upcountry village in Krappistan. But a typical Friday at a middle school in the largest city in Canada. I forget which brand of tampon used to advertise itself with the pitch “Now with new [whatever] you can go horse-riding, water-ski-ing, ballet dancing, whatever you want to do”, but perhaps they can just add the tag: “But not participate in Friday prayers at an Ontario public school.”
Some Canadians will look at this picture and react as Miss Shaidle did, or Tasha Kheiriddin in The National Post:
Is this the Middle Ages? Have I stumbled into a time warp, where “unclean” women must be prevented from “defiling” other persons? It’s bad enough that the girls at Valley Park have to enter the cafeteria from the back, while the boys enter from the front, but does the entire school have the right to know they are menstruating?
But a lot of Canadians will glance at the picture and think, “Aw, diversity, ain’t it a beautiful thing?” – no different from the Sikh Mountie in Prince William’s escort. And even if they read the caption and get to the bit about a Toronto public school separating menstruating girls from the rest of the student body and feel their multiculti pieties wobbling just a bit, they can no longer quite articulate on what basis they’re supposed to object to it. Indeed, thanks to the likes of Ontario “Human Rights” Commission chief commissar Barbara Hall, the very words in which they might object to it have been all but criminalized.
Islam understands the reality of Commissar Hall’s “social justice”: You give ’em an inch, and they’ll take the rest.
Read it all. How many schools, mosques, masjids, etc. in the U.S. are subjecting girls to this? In Canada…
At least six York Region schools allow students to attend Friday prayers on school property during lunch period so they don’t have to leave to worship and maybe not return.
For three years, the school at Don Mills Rd. and Overlea Blvd. has allowed an imam from a local mosque to run 40-minute prayer sessions in the school’s cafeteria after lunch, during class time, from November to March.
The services have raised questions about the role of religion in a secular system, as well as concerns over gender equity given girls pray behind boys, at the back of the room. Girls who are menstruating sit apart, at the very back.