British schoolgirl told to return home for wearing crucifix (December 7, 2005)
Sixteen-year-old Sam Morris was suspended from a British school this week for wearing a crucifix, a well known Christian symbol. A student of the Sinfin Community School in Derby, she was told by the school's deputy headmaster, Howard Jones, to remove the crucifix around her neck. After refusing to do so, trouble began to erupt.
Mr. Jones talked to the girl for up to 30 minutes, trying to convince her to take off the crucifix. However, the pupil, who is studying for her General Certificate of Secondary Education exams, did not waver and continued to wear it. It was then that Mr. Jones decided to give the girl a one-day suspension as a "last resort," saying that Sam violated the school's jewelry policy.
Debra Saunders, the student's mother, was unhappy about the situation and wonders if the school is trying to discriminate against Christians. Sikh students are permitted to wear bracelets called karas, which are a mandatory part of their religion. However, it appears that wearing a crucifix is deplorable, since the school's policies prohibit it.
"She thinks it's very unfair when other people are allowed to wear religious symbols," Sam's mother said, referring to her daughter. "It just ends up creating a divide between the pupils. Everyone is being told that they should be living in unity, but this rule is not right. Sam has just as much right to celebrate her own religion."
Mr. Jones, the school's deputy headmaster, disagrees, saying that the school's policy is "even-handed and fair." He went on to say the following, "As a Christian, I don't have to wear a crucifix but Sikhs don't have that option and we have to be understanding. We live in a multi-faith society."
The Derby City Council also weighed in on the matter. One of their spokespeople stated, "It is lawful to ban crucifixes while allowing other religious symbols, but whether it is desirable is another matter." The spokesperson went on to say, "For some people, wearing a crucifix could be a deeply religious gesture, which is why personal needs should be taken into account."
In the meantime, Sam has returned to school, sans crucifix.
Around the world in recent years there has been debate about wearing religious symbols. Recently in France, Muslim girls were banned from wearing the hijab (headscarfe) and Christians were banned from wearing overt symbols of Christianity. Add your comments to Religious clothing and symbols (discussion).
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