Some school boards in the Greater Toronto Area allow students to be exempted from classes based on religious beliefs, including music and art – but only as a last resort and after failing to reach a compromise with parents.

The issue of allowing children to withdraw from classes flared up at Canada's largest school board after a group of Muslim parents were offered an accommodation, not a full exemption, from music class at their Scarborough elementary school.

Documents obtained by The Globe and Mail reveal a bitter three-year battle between the Toronto District School Board and a group of parents, who said that having their children attend music class violated their Muslim faith. But music is a mandatory part of the Ontario curriculum and the school board suggested students could just clap their hands instead of playing instruments or listen to a cappella versions of O Canada.

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