Accommodations for Atheist Students in Schools

Example of letter sent to Ontario school board officials

RE: Accommodations to protect the my son’s/daughter’s right to freedom from religion

Dear Director:
While our school system works to eliminate religious discrimination through its equity and inclusion policies of accommodation for religious beliefs and practices, the rights of non-believing students are generally ignored.

In 1984, the Supreme Court of Canada, said that the phrase “freedom of conscience and religion” in section 2 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects the “right to freedom from religion.” equally with the right to freedom of religion (SCC Big M Drugs v The Crown). This decision was reinforced by the decision to declare opening prayers at public meetings unconstitutional. (Simoneau v. City of Saguenay, 2015)

In order to protect that right to freedom from religion for my son/daughter I am asking for two accommodations in his/her school.

First, because the words of O Canada are theistic, I ask that only instrumental versions of the song be played during opening ceremonies and other school ceremonies.

Second, when teachers ask students to memorize the words to O Canada, I ask that my son/daughter be allowed to memorize the following non-theistic version without penalty.

English                                                                             Français
O Canada, our home and cherished land,              O Canada, terre pour nos enfants
True patriot love in all of us command.                   Ton front est ceint de fleurons glorieux
With glowing hearts we see thee rise                      Car ton bras sait porte l’épée
The True North, strong and free.                             Et tu supports nos choix
From far and wide O Canada,                                 Ton histoire est une épopée
We stand on guard for thee.                                    Des plus brillants exploits.

We’ll keep our land, glorious and free.                    Et ta valeur, d’espoir trempé

O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.                  Protégéra nos foyers et nos droits.
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.                  Protégéra nos foyes et nos droits.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. I look forward to hearing from you


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