A school district in the Nashville, Tenn., area has revised its field trip policy after receiving backlash for taking students to visit a mosque.
In late August, students in an honors world studies class at Hendersonville High School visited the mosque and a Hindu temple as part of the class curriculum on world religions. Students who chose not to attend the field trip were required to write an essay comparing world religions based on several documents, according to the Tennessean.
Some parents began questioning the field trip at back-to-school night earlier this month, and they spoke out against the fact that students were not brought to churches or synagogues. Additionally, parent Larry Conner said the documents provided to students who did not go on the field trip contained a pro-Islam bias, according to Fox News.
“Our kids are being indoctrinated and this is being shoved in their face,” Conner told the outlet. “It tells me they are pushing other religions and they want Christianity to take a back seat. They want our children to be tolerant of everything except Christianity.”
After receiving complaints, the school changed its policy and decided to eliminate all field trips to religious venues for the class. According to local outlet WKRN-TV, a statement released by Sumner County Schools spokesman Jeremy Johnson reads, in part:
Our district has reviewed the practice and decided to eliminate field trips to religious venues from this class, as it does not provide equal representation to all the religions studied in the course unit. This decision was made due to the fact that equal representation in regards to field trips for all religions studied in the course is not feasible.
Parents and students have been reacting to the policy change in a variety of ways.
“I think his initial concerns are right on,” Vanessa Silkwood of the Sumner County Board of Education told The Tennessean. “Whether or not there was true bias, I don’t know. At least there is a perception that this course is skewed and they get that because they only went to two religious venues.”
However, some students who took the course said that concerns about the field trip were overblown.
“The world studies class was really the one and only class that allowed for such an open dialogue of faith and religion,” said Kelly Fussman, a 2012 graduate of Hendersonville High School, according to the outlet. “To be able to experience what we were talking about firsthand -– you can’t get that through class discussion and a textbook.”
The school has reportedly been offering the world studies class for 10 years, WKRN-TV notes.