More school girls and religious discrimination

Sinoangle’s post about the 11-year-old girl who could not play soccer unless she removed her hijab triggered my memory about a recent story out of the UK where a 12-year-old schoolgirl lost a legal challenge to wear a niqab at school.

The judge ruled that the following factors weighed in favor of the ban:

• the veil prevented teachers from seeing facial expressions – a key element in effective classroom interaction
• the necessity to enforce a school uniform policy under which girls of different faiths would have a sense of equality and identity
• security – the head teacher had said an unwelcome visitor could move around the school incognito
• the need to avoid peer pressure on girls to take up wearing the veil

Is there not a discriminatory subtext behind these mostly hypothetical factors?

The school’s headteacher had the gall to claim that the school, “was proud to welcome pupils from all faiths and religions with a view to helping them achieve their potential in a supportive learning environment.” Ruling against the girl is incongruous with a supposedly welcoming and supportive learning environment.

Worse yet, the ruling has prompted the UK’s Education Secretary to reassure schools that (mostly White) head teachers would remain totally responsible for setting uniform policy.

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