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Joint letter in support of professor Grayson and gender equality at York University, Canada

by, 11 January 2014

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York University is standing by its sexist decision to allow a student to be excused from a group project because the presence of women interfered with his “firm religious beliefs” even after his professor refused the request. To defend professor Grayson and gender equality, please sign the petition here.

Here’s a letter we have signed in support of Professor Grayson.

Dear Professor Grayson

We are writing to you in full support of your decision to uphold gender equality in your class at York University.

Whilst religious belief is absolute, manifestation of belief is not and can be limited to uphold gender equality. Any form of segregation, whether by race, sex or otherwise is discriminatory.

In the UK, the representative body of Universities in the UK met with widespread opposition when it issued guidance endorsing gender segregation; it was forced to withdraw their guidance after the prime minister intervened. A legal notice issued this week on behalf of a female student reiterates that “gender segregation reinforces negative views specifically about women, undermines their right to participate in public life on equal terms with men and disproportionately impedes women from ethnic and religious minorities, whose rights to education and gender equality are already imperilled.”

A petition has been initiated in your support and reminds York University of its duty to eliminate discrimination and advance gender equality. We would like to see a clear, principled, and earnest retraction from York University’s administration, including from Mr. Martin Singer, Dean of the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, and Noël A. J. Badiou, Director at York University’s Centre for Human Rights, of this transgression of women’s equality. This irresponsible move by York’s administration sets a dangerous precedent for women’s rights in Canadian universities. We hope that York’s administration starts to understand the implications of capitulating to bigotry and sexism under the guise of religious exceptionalism. As one of the biggest educational institutions in Canada, York must send the message to Canadians and to the world that racism, homophobia, and sexism, are always unacceptable and will not be tolerated.

We all stand in solidarity with you and all those who support rights and equality for all people.


  • Ariane Brunet, Programme Director, Centre for Secular Space
  • Chris Moos, Secretary of LSE SU Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society
  • Esam Shoukry, Spokesperson of Defence of Secularism and Civil Rights in Iraq
  • Faisal Saeed Al Mutar, Founder of Global Secular Humanist Movement
  • Farzana Hassan, Writer and Women’s Rights Activist
  • Gita Sahgal, Director of Centre for Secular Space
  • Harsh Kapoor, South Asia Citizens Web
  • Kiran Opal, Human Rights Activist, Ex-Muslims of North America
  • Lalia Ducos, Women’s Initiative for Citizenship and Universal Rights
  • Lawrence Krauss, Theoretical Physicist and Cosmologist
  • Marieme Helie Lucas, Secularism is a Women’s Issue
  • Maryam Namazie, Spokesperson of Fitnah and One Law for All
  • Mina Ahadi, Coordinator of International Committee Against Execution and Stoning
  • Muhammad Syed, Ex-Muslims of North America
  • Nas Ishmael, Ex-Muslims of North America
  • Peter Tatchell, Director of Peter Tatchell Foundation
  • Pragna Patel, Director of Southall Black Sisters
  • Raheel Raza, President of Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow
  • Richard Dawkins, Scientist
  • Sadaf Ali, Ex-Muslims of North America
  • Sarah Haider, Ex-Muslims of North America
  • Siamak Amjadi, Coordinator of Fitnah – Movement for Women’s Liberation
  • Soraya Chemaly, Writer
  • Tarek Fatah, Founder of Muslim Canadian Congress
  • Zari Asli, Founder of Friends of Women in the Middle East Society