J. Paul Grayson


The Week In Review: When Rights Collide, Seek Common Sense

The collective freakout Canadian commentators seem to be having about a collision of religious and gender rights is overblown. Yes, some decisions must be made that won't please everyone. But usually the people involved can figure things out sensibly, without human rights commissions or TV commentators dictating the correct answers. Because realistically, those answers will differ in each case. If we concentrate more on protecting the overarching right of individuals to act as they see fit, then the complicated calculations (Does gender trump religion? Does creed trump sexual orientation?) will take care of themselves.

Why I Said No To Gender Segregation at York

For the past week, York University has been widely criticized for the way it handled a male student's request for a religious accommodation so that he would not be required to interact with female students in his class. I denied the request because it infringed upon women's right to be treated with respect and as equals. In the end, the student accepted my decision and completed the assignment with other students, including female ones. Despite this resolution, the university continued to insist that the accommodation be granted. As a result, the public has soundly and justifiably criticized the university administration.

Why Did York University Throw Women Under the Bus?

I honestly can't think of a major religion that forbids men from meeting in public with a group of women. And honestly, if this restriction existed, how would you even function in the world? Regardless of whether the student's request is legitimate, let's talk about the fact that certain people quite high up in the university's food chain were willing to grant the accommodation that the student was seeking. A secular university -- I seriously cannot stress that point enough -- was more than willing to make an exception based on a religious belief that women were ultimately so different from men that the two genders could not interact in public.