Pub philosopher is annoyed at religious challenges to school uniforms:
Yet another schoolgirl has found religion and is taking advantage of the current climate in which the authorities flinch in the face of religious demands. Following the example of Muslim and Christian pupils, a Sikh girl is invoking her rights in an attempt to overturn a perfectly reasonable school uniform rule.
I disagree with him. Firstly, this is not about a school uniform, it’s about a school’s policy on jewellery (more on this later).
Secondly, rules enforcing a school uniform are not “perfectly reasonable”. The reasons given for school uniforms — that they promote a school identity and prevent people getting jealous of others’ more expensive or more fashionable clothes — apply equally as well to the nation as a whole, but if the government attempted to make all adults wear a national uniform, they would get kicked out by the voters at the next election, and rightly so.
Thirdly, the school’s jewellery policy, this:
The only two forms of jewellery that girls were allowed to wear in school were a wrist watch and one pair of plain metal stud earrings.
seems hard to justify on principled grounds. If wrist jewellery is OK if it tells the time, what’s objectionable about wrist jewellery that doesn’t tell the time? If a girl’s wrist watch stops working, must she then take it off? If studs on ear piercings are OK, why not studs on other piercings? No doubt the reply to this last question would amount to “other piercing are unconventional and not so much a part of mainstream culture as ear piercings”; this is an entirely reasonable answer if you see the purpose of schools as making people into obedient, rule-following worker drones for the system, but less so if you think that education should create active, inquiring, flexible, intelligent minds able to cope with the challenges of the 21st century.
I don’t object to kids coming to school wearing any clothes or with any jewellery (or anything else) they like, unless it disrupts their or others education. The one thing I would object to is them coming to school with the attitude that they don’t want to learn, and if they did they should either have the attitude beaten out of them, or be expelled.
What I do find objectionable is religious groups attempting to use their religion as a reason not to obey rules. It’s like they are saying “we’re a religion, so the rules shouldn’t apply to us”, as if believing a load of superstitious nonsense somehow makes them superior people. If they were instead saying “this is a stupid rule, no-one should have to obey it”, I would have more sympathy with them.