History textbook with no mention of Islam causes controversy in Seminole County

by: Michael Lopardi Updated:

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SANFORD, Fla. - A new world history textbook for middle school students is facing criticism for not discussing Islam.

The school board in Seminole County approved the National Geographic book for sixth graders this week, despite three written objections.

“The entire Islamic culture has been omitted,” Chuluota resident Alan Kornman told board members. “I find that incredible that this book could go through the review process and that not come up.”

The book titled “World History Ancient Civilizations” includes passages on several religions including Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and Judaism, but no mentions of Islam.

Kornman said students should get equal representation of each religion.

“The state standards dictate what we teach in our classrooms,” said Shawn Gard-Harrold, the district’s director of teaching and learning.

Gard-Harrold said the state spells out which books can be used and what should be taught in classrooms. He said Islam is believed to have been founded after the time frame covered by the standards.

A committee recommended the selection. The district said Islam isn’t included in the current sixth grade textbook and is typically taught during tenth grade.

“There is no purposeful omission of Islam in this textbook,” Gard-Harrold said. “It's just that it's not related to the standards for sixth grade.”

This marks the first time the district has received objections over the approval of a textbook, Gard-Harrold said.

Channel 9 obtained copies of the three objections, which all reference the lack of Islam.

The school board must respond to the objections but can still move forward with the purchase of the book.

The district has approximately 4,300 sixth grade students who are scheduled to begin using the text this fall.

The imam at the Islamic Center of Orlando said he plans to meet with his members this weekend and decide whether to get involved in the debate.