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Manifestation of Belief and Religious Symbols at Schools: Setting Boundaries in English Courts

Sylvie Bacquet

University of Westminster


University of Westminster School of Law Research Paper No. 09-12
Religion and Human Rights, Vol. 4, pp. 121-135, 2009

Since the coming into force of the Human Rights Act 1998 on 2 October 2000, state schools as public authorities have been under an obligation to comply with the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, including the right to manifest ones’ religion and beliefs as laid out in Article 9 of the convention. When devising their uniform policies, schools are therefore required to accommodate religious and cultural diversity. However, the extent to which they are required to do so has given rise to much litigation and debate. This article considers some of the theoretical implications underpinning the debate on religious symbols and manifestation of belief at school. It looks at the dilemma between the legal obligation for schools to allow the expression of cultural and religious diversity yet maintain cohesion and protect children from factional pressures related to various belief systems. It examines the extent to which human rights law can help to resolve the issue and looks also at the way the Human Rights Act itself has emerged as a conduit for crises of religious and ethnic identity in contemporary society.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 17

Keywords: freedom of religion, school uniforms, Human Rights Act 1998, religious symbols, manifestation of beliefs at school

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Date posted: September 9, 2009  

Suggested Citation

Bacquet, Sylvie, Manifestation of Belief and Religious Symbols at Schools: Setting Boundaries in English Courts (2009). Religion and Human Rights, Vol. 4, pp. 121-135, 2009. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1470797 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1470797

Contact Information

Sylvie Bacquet (Contact Author)
University of Westminster ( email )
4 Little Titchfield Street
London, England W1W 7UW
United Kingdom

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