A York University student's request to be excused from course work, on the grounds that his religion prevents him from interacting with women, has sparked a human rights debate over how universities should navigate between religious accommodation and human rights.

The issue first arose in September when a student in J. Paul Grayson's online sociology course asked to be excused from meeting in person with classmates for a mandatory assignment.

Grayson said he contacted the dean's office and the university's Centre for Human Rights after receiving the request because he deemed the demand "too big" to handle himself.

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