ISLA’s First vGroup on Contemporary Issues (Recap): Gender, Sexuality and LGBTQ+

vGroup Participants- Zoom Screenshot

(Recap) ISLA’s First vGroup:

Contemporary Issues in Islamic Education: LGBTQ + Issues

vGroup Participants- Zoom Screenshot

ISLA’s first vGroup ran from December 12, 2020 -February 13, 2021. It was co-facilitated by Rozena Raja and Yahya Van Rooy.  The group included 6-10 participants who consistently attended the weekly meetings. Attendees were Muslim educators of all ages, races/ethnicities, both male and female, holding different positions at Islamic schools.



The topic of LGBTQ+ issues was chosen after a robust discussion on the IECN indicated urgency and interest in the topic.

To plan for the meetings, the facilitators of the group, Yahya Van Rooy and Rozena Raja, met regularly and created a UbD document to guide the vGroup experience. This document has been shared in vPeer so that it can be used by other Islamic school professionals to lead PLCS related to this topic.



Meetings were hosted through ISLA’s vPeer Network. However, folks who weren’t able to join from vPeer were sent a  Zoom link 15 minutes prior to the meetings. The gatherings casual and conversational. During the meetings we: 

  • Hosted “watch parties” of relevant debates/discussions amongst scholars
  • Engaged in discussion circles
  • Shared personal/professional/historical perspectives 
  • Invited a guest speaker who identified as a practicing Muslim who has experienced exclusive same-sex attractions 
  • Co-created a working document with guiding principles on how to tackle contemporary issues, particularly those related to this topic, and addressing commonly asked questions about the topic
  • Populated/added to an excel with curated, vetted resources for Islamic educators to further explore the topic/issues



  • Resources from the vGroup were created and will be hosted on ISLA’s vPeer Learn Bank. Yahya Van Rooy will inshallah share that link here. 
  • Resources Include:
    • Spreadsheet with Curated Resources on Gender & Sexuality (including LGBTQ+) issues from a Muslim perspective (videos, articles, podcasts)
    • Youtube video from our guest speaker & his slide deck–> Honestly the most comprehensive presentation that I’ve ever heard on the topic, combining sociological/cultural/historical, human development & Islamic perspectives
    • Understanding by Design (UbD) doc that was created to facilitate the vGroup, could be used for Islamic school PLCs
    • Guiding Principles document on addressing contemporary issues in Islamic education, specifically related to Gender & Sexuality


vGroup Testimonials from Participants:

“When I walked into the vPeer group, I was completely new to the subject. Just listening to all of these conversations and the experts in this group, alhamdulillah, it opened up my mind. I understand this issue so much more than I did when I started. I’m so grateful for the resources.” 

“It’s been a wonderful journey. I wish I was on all of the calls, but even what I was able to take away, opened up my mind a lot in terms of looking at the problem and realizing that it does take a community and a village (to understand it).” 

“One of the biggest takeaways for me is the process that we as Muslim educators used to understand and respond (to the issue) … and I think that was so necessary to learn from so many different perspectives, as opposed to someone from the outside passing judgment.  This is a framework that could be used to approach many of the issues we are facing. What came out of this is a real application of how the shariah can and is able to be used. The process that ISLA gave us, gives us a framework for how to deal with this.”

“Everyone did a tremendous job with compiling the resources for this particular project. My biggest takeaway was the reminder that the well-being of our students is more vast than we can imagine and it is extremely important; I realized that this year, more than them knowing core subjects, was making sure that they were well. And this is a topic that we should continue to explore, because it has to do with the wellbeing of our children, so much so that we have incorporated it into our sexual health class and will be a permanent fixture. “

“I’m amazed at what we have come up with. By putting our heads together, we can come up with something really powerful. I thought we might be doing an extension of IECN, each throwing in our two cents, but we came out with this document [Guiding Principles in Addressing Contemporary Issues working document].”


Next vGroup: 

Time: Saturdays @ 12 pm EST | 11 am CST | 9 am PST 

Topic: Social Emotional Learning 
Duration: 75 min 
Where: vPeer/Zoom. 
If you are interested in joining this vGroup, please sign up hereI am confident that it will be just as enriching as our first group inshallah! We look forward to hosting you inshallah. Please join us tomorrow when we begin the new group with introductions and sharing our own problems of practices. 


Contact Yahya Van Rooy, ISLA’s Community Development Associate, and co-facilitator, if you have any questions:

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