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School bans wearing crucifix: More discrimination against Christians January 14, 2007

Posted by C.A.R.D in Card, Citizens Against Racism and Discrimination, Cross, England, Muslim, Muslims, Religion, religious, UK, United Kingdom.
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A school provoked fury last night by ordering a devout Catholic schoolgirl to remove her cross necklace because it posed a health and safety risk.Teachers demanded Samantha Devine remove her chain and tiny crucifix despite allowing Muslim and Sikh pupils to wear symbols of their religion.

Her family have vowed to fight the decision “all the way” claiming it discriminates against Christians.

The case mirrors the row which engulfed British Airways and forced the airline into an embarrassing climbdown after it threatened to sack an employee who insisted on wearing her cross at work.

In the latest clash, 13-year-old Samantha was left in tears after her form teacher told her she must remove her tiny half-inch crucifix and chain.

But her furious family yesterday pointed out the school – Robert Napier in Gillingham, Kent – allows Muslim pupils to wear headscarves and Sikh students to come to lessons with turbans and bangles.

Samantha even claims staff routinely fail to crack down on youngsters wearing non-religious jewellery, including large necklaces and earrings.

Her parents are concerned she is being singled out because she is a Christian. The youngster last night vowed to continue wearing her necklace to school – even if it means being expelled.

Her stand now threatens to spark similar confrontations in schools up and down the country.

The vast majority of schools ban jewellery as part of their uniform policies and head teachers’ leaders remained defiant last night, declaring all neck chains – regardless of whether they are religious – must stay banned for health and safety reasons.

The schoolgirl’s father, who served as a soldier in the Royal Irish Regiment for 11 years including tours in Kosovo and Sierra Leone, vowed to sue the school if it insists on barring his daughter from wearing her necklace – which he gave her as a present a month ago.

She intends to proudly wear her chain when she returns on Monday to her secondary modern school, described as “satisfactory” by Ofsted.

Mr Devine, who attends St Thomas Of Canterbury Catholic Church in Gillingham every Sunday, insisted: “It’s just political correctness gone absolutely mad.

“It’s a harmless, very small crucifix and she wears it as a symbol of her religion.”

Samantha was asked to remove her necklace in front of sniggering classmates as she left the morning registration session on Wednesday morning.

The necklace was just visible underneath her open-necked blouse, worn with a blazer in accordance with the school’s dress code.

The Devines were told she should remove her chain because it breached health and safety rules.

But Mr Devine said: “I have seen other religous pupils at the school who are not part of the Christian fath, but they are allowed to wear their religious garments and symbols without being questioned.

“So why should my daughter be told to remove a cross which means a lot to her from around her neck?”

“People in this country are too scared to say anything against other faiths because they don’t want to be accused of discrimination. But it’s acceptable to discriminate against Catholics.

“We are British and should be allowed to wear it in our own country.

“I respect every religion, but my daughter is just wearing a crucifix to protect her. It makes me wonder why I protected my country when we can’t even protect my religious beliefs. This has upset the the entire family.”

The school, which has no religious ties, said it would allow Samantha to wear a cross as a lapel badge.

But Mr Devine said it would not make such a request to pupils from other religions.

He said there were Sikh pupils at the school who wore turbans. The school said in a statement it would consider waiving its jewellery rule – regardless of health and safety concerns – for “essential requirements”

He claims another teacher at Samantha’s school backed her right to wear the cross and encouraged her to continue doing so.

Samantha herself said: “I am proud of my religion and it is my right to wear a cross around my neck.

“I can’t understand why the school thinks a tiny crucifix on a thin silver necklace is a health and safety hazard.”

The 13-year-old, who wants to be a vet and has been getting A and B grades in her exams, added: “Other religions can show their beliefs by wearing bracelets or turbans, so why can I not wear a cross to show my devotion to God?

“I felt really upset and shocked when the teacher told me take off my necklace and crucifix.

“I am determined to keep wearing the crucifix whatever the consequences – even if I get suspended or expelled.”

Her mother, Rosemary, 38, has two other children, Christopher, 16, and Louise, 14, neither of whom attend the school.

She said: “Although no one has actually said she will be suspended or disciplined for wearing the crucifix, Samantha is very worried and concerned about the repercussion of her decision.

“She has been made fully aware that she is breaking a school rule, but Danny and myself have told her to stand up for what she believes in. “If it all comes to a head, I don’t want to even think about removing her from the school because she has until now, got on so well, but we will not back down.

“Samantha is proud of who she is and we will fight this all the way.”

Paul Jackson, the school’s deputy headteacher, said: “The school has a policy of no jewellery to be worn by any students in years seven to ten. All parents and students are aware of this.

“In this particular instance, the student and parent were informed that wearing the chain was a health and safety hazard, but that we would allow a lapel badge to be worn.

“The only exception to our uniform rule we would consider making is if the jewellery were an essential requirement of a particular religion.

“We have no reason to believe this to be the case in this instance.”

The case has striking parallels with the row late last year over BA’s decision to take disciplinary action against Christian check-in worker Nadia Eweida.

Following a barrage of criticism from Church leaders and politicans across the spectrum, the airline announced a shake-up of its uniform policy to allow symbols of faith to be worn openly.

A spokesman for the Department for Education said: “Uniforms and dress codes are a matter for individual schools.”

Take Action:
The Robert Napier School

Telephone Number: 01634 851157
Fax Number: 01634 280972
Address: Third Avenue
Gillingham
Kent

Post Code: ME7 2LX

C.a.r.d {Citizens Against Racism and Discrimination} Source: Thisislondon.co.uk

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