A policy to protect Muslim students from bullying in the San Diego Unified School District was the subject of intense debate Thursday, with opponents who are suing the district arguing that the issue is overblown while supporters said it was overdue.

Daniel Piedra, executive director of the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund, said the numbers of reported cases of Muslim students who are bullied is skewed because the data includes students who said they were "rarely" or "sometimes" bullied.

"If you look at the results, only 7 percent said they were bullied often or very often," he said at a news conference in Mission Valley, citing a study by the Council on American-Islamic Relations that claimed 55 percent of Muslim students were bullied.

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