Houston's Iman Academy SW has over 500 students, increasing academic prestige and an established soccer team. In 2010, the school sought admittance to the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools (known as Tapps), a group that organizes athletic competition among more than 200 schools in the state. Iman's application was denied, on grounds that are transparently racist.
TAPP sent Iman a questionnaire with the following questions:
– “Historically, there is nothing in the Koran that fully embraces Christianity or Judaism in the way a Christian and/or a Jew understands his religion. Why, then, are you interested in joining an association whose basic beliefs your religion condemns?”
– “It is our understanding that the Koran tells you not to mix with (and even eliminate) the infidels. Christians and Jews fall into that category. Why do you wish to join an organization whose membership is in disagreement with your religious beliefs?”
– “How does your school address certain Christian concepts? (i.e. celebrating Christmas)”
This questionnaire could not have been any more offensive or misplaced. Tapps may have once been an organization for Christian schools, but it now serves non-Christian schools as well. Sending a questionnaire like this would be outrageous even if Tapps were still Christian, but this incident even worse because Tapps generally acts neutrally.
Two other Islamic schools have been given similar questionnaires by Tapps, but refused to fill them out. Iman Academy filled theirs out, but was denied admittance. “We didn't see how it had anything to do with Tapps or our kids and sports,” Cindy Steffens, an administrator with Iman Academy SW, said.
Associate director of Tapps Bryan Bunselmeyer said last that he had no comment about the questionnaires or Tapps' dealings with Islamic schools.
This week, Tapps was brought under the spotlight for another discrimination incident. The organization refused to reschedule a state semifinal boys basketball game for an Orthodox Jewish day school, which could not play at the scheduled time because its players observe the Sabbath. After public outrage and legal pressure, Tapps caved and rescheduled the game.
For shame. Tapps is an organization in Texas, a state in the United States of America, which ensures free exercise of religion and free speech. They better start acting like it.
Ed.: Title changed from “Blatant Racial” Discrimination in Texas Youth Athletics” to “Blatant Religious Discrimination in Texas Youth Athletics”