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



  1. University administrations reflects how out of sync with basic liberalism some leftwing politics (which most universities reflect) has become.

  2. We cannot tolerate mentally ill demand of an individual and consider it as religious belief.

    I don’t think the mentally ill should have their reputations tarnished by comparison with religion.

    This isn’t some individual pathology, it’s a pathology of a group.

  3. The framing for this debate seems to be the tension between religious accommodation and gender equality.

    There is another dimension, stemming directly from the mission of a university. Many if not most classes in a university gain their value from the lively interaction in which the students take part. That is why large lecture classes have break-out sessions, why labs typically are organized with two or three students working together, why schools from law to math have developed teaching methods where students make and criticize each other’s arguments, and why neither guided reading nor MOOCs have yet to supplant the university.

    Segregation cuts the legs out from under that.

  4. Mr. Singer and Mr. Badiou must apologize to all Canadian for such a discriminatory remarks and posture against equality between man and woman. In absent of that they must be removed from their positions. We cannot tolerate mentally ill demand of an individual and consider it as religious belief. First and foremost, York Administrators must demonstrate which religion advocate such an inequality and then determine if such a discriminatory provision exists to begin with, then ban such an individual from entering educational system. Human rights , human dignity and equality supersede any bigoted so called religion .

    Afshin jam Afshin , human rights and political activist.
    Vancouver , Canada

  5. The student, who is not being named for privacy matters, cited religious reasons when he made the request

    Be honest – do you think it’s even possible that this kerfuffle doesn’t revolve around the sensitivities of a fanatic moosle ?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.