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OPINION

Muslims Turning the Tide in the School Culture Wars

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

In a slap to Muslim girls at Stuyvesant High School, the school is cancelling single-sex swim lessons, even though swim instruction is required to graduate. That forces the girls to choose between preserving their modesty and getting a diploma.

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Count on Muslim families to fight back and likely prevail. Nationwide, Muslims are taking up the battle in schools to protect traditional religious values, including modesty.

Move over, Roman Catholics, evangelical Christians and conservative Jews. Reinforcements have arrived, and they're turning the tide.

Even in the Ivy League. After weeks of protests by female Muslim students, Yale University is switching its campus housing policy for the coming academic year to offer single-gender dorms and bathrooms.

From Michigan to Virginia, Muslim parents are showing up at local school board meetings to oppose graphic sex education and gender fluidity indoctrination. Their engagement is impacting politics. More Muslims are voting Republican, concluding that the Democratic Party is trampling Islamist values.

In Dearborn, Michigan, left-wing Democrat Rep. Rashida Tlaib opposed the Muslim parents in her district protesting sexually explicit materials in school.

Meanwhile, the Biden administration continues its lurch to the extreme left. President Joe Biden's Department of Education announced double-barreled rule changes last week, one favoring transgender athletes in elementary and middle school, and the other revoking a Trump-era commitment by the department to protect religious clubs and associations on college campuses. Flipping the bird to people of faith twice in a single week.

The Democratic Party is blowing off traditional values.

Sexual modesty is a core value in Islam. Muslims observe a dress code and guard against physical contact between sexes once students reach adolescence.

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Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects an employee's right to practice religion in the workplace, but there is no comparable statutory protection for students. Muslims are waging the battle one campus demonstration and school board meeting at a time, often winning.

Muslims are powerful at Yale. In 2021, undergrads elected a Muslim woman to be student body president. And on March 10, Yale acceded to demands from the Muslim Student Association, Orthodox Jews at Yale and other religious groups to provide single-sex campus housing. Muslim women students had protested that with men in the bathroom, they couldn't even remove their hijab.

Modesty is the issue at Stuyvesant High School, too. Brian Moran, assistant principal of physical education, told the student newspaper that the girls' single-sex swim classes clashed with other scheduling priorities. He made it sound like a mere scheduling inconvenience was justification enough for the change, and told the girls to wear full-body burkinis. Sorry, but those still cling to the body when wet.

New York City's Board of Education website promises trans students "alternative arrangements" for anyone with "a need or desire for increased privacy." Why should Muslim students get less? One in every 10 students in the city's school system is Muslim.

Last September, Muslim women at Syracuse University waged a battle for swim time without men in the college pool and won a concession that starts next fall.

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In Utah, the Muslim Civic League worked with the Sikh and Jewish communities to pass a state law in February allowing school athletes to wear turbans, hijabs and modest pants and tops in competition instead of the regulation form fitting uniforms.

Luna Banuri, the league's executive director, said: "All faiths have modesty standards. We believe this affects multiple communities." Maryland and Illinois recently passed similar laws.

In Bethel, Ohio, a coalition of Muslim and Christian parents are suing to preserve single-sex bathrooms and locker rooms and halt a rule change that would allow biological boys to use the girls' facilities.

Most Muslims still vote Democratic, but the shift is beginning. According to a Wall Street Journal exit poll, 28% voted Republican in the 2022 midterms, a double-digit increase over the 2018 midterms.

Republicans are gaining ground as more Muslims conclude the Democratic Party doesn't show regard for Islamic values.

Tell educators to respect families with faith-based values instead of shunning them.

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