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26 October 2006

Some Mason residents are claiming their school district is discriminating against Christian students...

medium_mason.jpg(wcpo.com)  Some Mason residents are claiming their school district is discriminating against Christian students...

The accusations came after office space was made available to two students who were observing Ramadan.

District leaders said they set aside the space so Muslim students who were fasting for Ramadan didn't have to be in the cafeteria during lunchtime.

They said the students could have prayed in that room if they wanted to.

Some say that decision is favoring one religion over another.

Sharon Poe and Mason School Board Member Jennifer Miller said public schools like Mason High School are forcing Christianity out of the hallways.

Examples they give include the fact that Easter break is now called Spring break.

And nativity scenes are also not allowed on school grounds.

They claim that Christian students are being discriminated against.

They argue that if Christian students can't share their religion at school, no one should be able to.

Sharon Poe is a Mason resident.

"I want to make sure that it is being fair for every religious group in the school. We can't stipulate that's what's good for one is not good for another. This is a public education facility."

District leaders said parents of two Muslim students requested the space, and the law requires them to accommodate the request.

A spokesperson for the district, Tracey Carson, said it's also the compassionate thing to do.

"We just want to be respectful of all of our students' faith traditions and knowing that students need to feel welcome and comfortable in order to be successful learners."

Shakila Ahmad is a member of the Mason Diversity Council.

"Legally and morally there's absolutely to me, no reason why people should be up in arms about that. I'm just totally baffled in a way."

"There should be no reason people of other faiths should object as long as their children aren't being asked to pray."

While these women argue Christian students aren't getting equal access to pray, school leaders say that's not true.

Tracey Carson said, "If Christian students during their lunch period wanted to gather their tables together and bring out their bible studies and have a bible study that's just fine, they just don't have a lot of time, but there's nothing preventing them from doing that."

Members of the Mason Diversity Council said other schools have made the same accommodations for Muslim students.

People unhappy with the situation hope that parents on their side will bring their concerns to the school board.

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