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CAIR-LA Welcomes School District’s Ban of Depictions of Religious Figures in Class Assignments

CAIR LA Welcomes School Districts Ban of Depictions of Religious Figures in Class Assignments(ANAHEIM, CA, 11/06/15) – The Greater Los Angeles office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-LA) today welcomed a decision by Acton-Agua Dulce Unified School District banning school assignments that ask students to draw the Prophet Muhammad and other religious figures. 

Following complaints by a parent and CAIR-LA, District Superintendent Brent Woodard directed all staff to “permanently suspend the practice of drawing or depictions of any religious leader.” The mother of a High Desert School 7th grader complained to school officials after her child was asked to draw the Prophet Muhammad as part of a history assignment. 

SEE: School District Bans Drawings of Religious Leaders After Acton Students Draw Muhammad (LA Daily News)

The school had previously refused to respond to the parent's complaint and defended the inclusion of the assignment in the curriculum. The parent contacted CAIR-LA after her child allegedly faced retaliation by school officials.

CAIR-LA brought the matter to the public's attention by inviting the parent to share her experience at a press conference on the release of the Muslim civil rights group's new report on discrimination and bullying of California Muslim students. 

SEE: CAIR-CA Held Press Conferences Releasing a New Report on School Bullying

CAIR-LA also followed up with the school and the superintendent by sending a letter of complaint. The letter reads in part, “As I am sure you are aware such bias in the curriculum creates the potential for unnecessary marginalization of Muslim students. If Muslim students do not feel respected or welcome in their school environment, they can feel disempowered and disconnected, leading to poor academic performance or low self-esteem.”

On Wednesday, the district superintendent and the school decided to reconsider its stance on the homework assignment.  

“We welcome Acton-Agua Dulce Unified School District's recognition of the offensive nature of this assignment and for helping to create an inclusive learning environment for all students,” said CAIR-LA Senior Civil Rights Attorney Fatima Dadabhoy. “We will continue working to ensure that immediate steps are taken to prevent this type of incident from occurring in the future.”

CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

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CONTACT: CAIR-LA Communications Coordinator Ojaala Ahmad, 714.776.1847, oahmad@cair.com

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