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San Diego school district sued over anti-Islamophobia campaign

Six parents filed a lawsuit against a California school district over its anti-Islamaphobia campaign, stating that the policy violated the U.S. Constitution, because it is the preference of a religion.

The Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund, which filed the lawsuit against San Diego Unified School District on behalf of the parents last Tuesday, said the policies should protect all students, regardless of their religion, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

“It is our position that the anti-bullying policies should protect all students, regardless of background and affiliation, and they should not single out any religious group for special treatment, as they seem to do here,” Charles LiMandri, president and chief counsel for the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund, told the newspaper.

LiMandri also said that the campaign was a “politically correct solution for a problem that does not exist.”

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Members of the council at San Diego Unified School District voted unanimously on April 4 to give of the campaign, aimed at the protection of the Muslim students of bullying. Only one director was absent at the time and the news of the campaign got very little attention.

Criticism started to pour in when the anti-Islamophobia campaign gained traction on news sites and social media. Some referred to it as an unwanted interference of the Islamic faith and culture, while others said that it is the priority of the one religion over the other.

The San Diego Union School District has no comment on the pending litigation to the Associated Press. The district has not responded to Fox News’ request for an explanation.

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Together with the protection of the Muslim students from bullying by creating ” safe spaces,” the district would have more lessons about Islam to help students gain a better understanding of the religion, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune . A district staff added that the students already learned about Islam, but more resources would be beneficial.

The policy would ensure the Islamic holidays would be recognized on the staff agenda, but the students would not get those days off. The neighborhood is also scheduled to consider the high school clubs that promote the American Muslim culture and in cooperation with the Council on American Islamic Relations.

A letter with the plans was expected to be sent to staff and parents of the district’s 132,000 students for the school year ends.

District officials have vigorously defended the plan in recent weeks, saying bullying of Muslim students was persistent and very much underreported. In a detailed message posted on her website, ward explained that Muslim students were not getting “special treatment”.

“The District takes seriously the bullying of a student, and we have programs and procedures to address bullying,” according to the website.

The district said that it would not subscribe to Islam, and that the policy does not violate the separation between church and state because they do not promote education or a religion. The initiative was not a “special effort” in the current anti-bullying policy for all students, the site stated.

The lawsuit, however, asks a judge to immediately stop the policy, while the merits of the claim are considered.

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LiMandri said he was open to settlement talks and that a lawyer for the school district, appeared open to the review of the cooperation with the Council for American-Islamic Relations.

“No one is to say we have expensive, prolonged litigation,” LiMandri said at a news conference on Thursday. “There may be a more general approach to this where all students can be protected and no students are favored to the disadvantage of someone else.”

Hanif Mohebi, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ San Diego chapter, said the lawsuit “appears to be an attempt to have the courts enforce the growing Islamophobia in our state and nation, and to strip away much needed protection for Muslim students, who are faced with increasing bullying.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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