School uniforms, religious symbols and the human rights act 1998: The 'purity ring' case

This article comments on the decision of the High Court in R (on the application of Playfoot) v Governing Body of Millais School (The 'purity ring' case) where the Court was asked to rule on whether the schools' governing body decision not to allow Lydia Playfoot to wear a silver ring as a symbol of her commitment to celibacy until marriage constituted a violation of articles 9 (freedom of thought, conscience and religion) and 14 (prohibition of discrimination) of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The case raises important issues in relation to religious freedom, schools and their duties under the Human Rights Act (HRA). This article seeks to highlight the extent to which the new legislation has led schools to become increasingly involved in religious matters and discusses some of the problems that may be associated with this approach.
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