Ohio school district pulls video on Islam after conservative group raises legal challenge

Olmstead-Falls-school-districtBy Bruce Geiselman, Northeast Ohio Media Group

OLMSTED FALLS, Ohio -- Faced with the threat of a federal lawsuit, the Olmsted Falls schools have pulled a video about Muslims in America from its seventh-grade social studies curriculum.

School Superintendent Jim Lloyd said the district agreed to remove the 2005 documentary TV show, "30 Days: Muslims and America," rather than spend money defending the right to show it.

"Muslims and America" is narrated by Morgan Spurlock, best known for his film "Super Size Me," in which he ate only McDonald's for one month.

It follows a Christian man who lives as a Muslim for 30 days with a family in Dearborn, Mich., sharing the family's culture, studying the Koran and attending prayers.

Jenny McKeigue -- a mother of three who works for the district part-time as alumni director -- objected to the show, which her son saw in class in 2010. She said it promoted Islam and did not fairly represent all ethnic and religious groups.

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Meanwhile, the American Civil Liberties Union said a school district should be allowed to show a video that teaches about the culture of a religion. Chris Link, executive director of the Ohio ACLU expressed her belief that was the intention of the school district rather than to teach students to practice a religion.

Link said she found it troubling the school district would remove the video based on the complaint of one parent. She said the group's attorneys planned to look into the issue.

Julia Shearson, executive director of the Cleveland Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said she didn't think the video crossed the line of proselytizing or providing religious instruction. Instead, it debunked common stereotypes about Islam and Muslims.

"Instead of being threatened with costly and baseless federal litigation, the school should have been applauded for having the courage to explore such complicated and nuanced topics," Shearson said.

Trying novel approaches to stretch the minds of students is a teacher’s job, she said.

However, in part because of the complex topics it offers, the material might be better suited for a high school civics class, Shearson added. (Read the full article)


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