District school board in Canada adopts anti-Islamophobia program

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The district school authority in Canada’s largest metropolis Toronto unanimously adopted a program against Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hatred.

“We have heard directly from our communities and have the data to show that Islamophobia continues to impact our students and staff on a regular basis,” the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) Chair Rachel Chernos Lin said in a statement about the vote.

“By taking a focused approach to confronting Islamophobia, we enable more members of our school communities to feel safe and welcome at school and work.”

The board serves approximately 235,000 students in Grades 7 to 12, and roughly one in five identify as Muslim.

The next step is for the board to develop and enact the program. No timetable was released for its implementation, but the board will consult with groups to garner ideas to include in the strategy.

The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) – Canada’s largest Muslim advocacy organization – welcomed the news.

“Islamophobic incidents have been on the rise across the country in recent years,” NCCM said in a news release. “This includes inside our classrooms in Toronto and beyond. It is time that our leaders implemented a real anti-Islamophobia strategy to help protect our kids. Muslim students should not have to worry about their safety and survival in our classrooms and schools.”

“Studies and reports on the lived experiences of Muslim students in Canadian school systems tell us that Islamophobia exists in many ways,” the NCCM said. “It is a real step in the right direction in the TDSB’s commitment to equity and inclusion.”

The Toronto board is the second to adopt a strategy to fight Islamophobia. In January, the Peel District School Board, which is just northwest of Toronto, became the first school board in Canada to vote to set up and implement an anti-Islamophobia strategy.

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