- Topics & Settings
Contentions Over Prayer In Faribault High School
The School’s Policy
Faribault High School has its own contentions history over religious diversity. Although Faribault High School does not have a written policy regarding prayer, through numerous conversations with students, we were able to gather an understanding of the unofficial policy. FHS had a designated area for Muslim students to pray, an unused hallway that leads to an exit in the front entrance of the school. In this “room” there are two carpets for kneeling on. The doors to the prayer room were often kept closed, and if they were open, as they usually are in the morning, Muslim students would close the doors. As of 2016, a school administrator whom I talked with when visiting over the summer said that the prayer room that was formerly an unused exit is no longer a prayer room because "it wasn't working out". She didn't know where the new prayer room was but thought it might be in the basement of the school.
Muslim students have been able to pray in the prayer room during non-instructional times of the day. The issue with prayer emerges for the midday prayer. Some students pray during their half hour lunch, but since the Faribault lunch schedule is staggered (some have lunch at 11:13am, another group at 11:43am, and the last at 12:13pm) and it is sometimes too early to pray in Lunch A, at 11am. Those students then have to wait until homeroom, which takes place at 12:43pm.1 None of the students are allowed to pray on Mondays during homeroom because that is a time set aside for reading. During the rest of the week, however, students are technically allowed to pray during homeroom. However, a student’s ability to do so is often dependent upon the particular homeroom teacher, as some are more understanding than others.
Fadumo, who was particularly eloquent in explaining the issue of prayer in FHS, said that students can pray in homeroom,
"...if your teacher lets you. Like some homeroom teachers are pretty mean, I would say, but I have a really nice one who’s really religious—I think he’s Christian, some kind of Lutheran. And he lets me pray, except for Mondays ’cause it’s reading day."
As is evident, some Muslim students think that their teachers are more understanding if their teacher is also religious. While this may be the school’s policy, a number of issues emerge both in the application of the policy and how non-Muslim students see the policy.
For more information on prayer in Faribault High School, see Sitting Down with Dawn, the School Counselor.