After nine months of being barred from school for violating the no jewelry rule, the UK's High Court ruled that the Welsh and Punjabi Sikh teenager had a right to wear her religious bangle to school. The court said that the school unlawfully discriminated against Sarika Singh by not letting her wear her Kara (bangle), an essential symbol of the Sikh faith, different from other jewelery. Sarika is the school's only Sikh pupil.
An almost constant clash churns between school rules and religious expression. This is how other notable school and religious symbol cases have been decided in the UK:
- In 2007, the High Court ruled that a girl suffered no discrimination when asked to remove her purity ring, which signifies her belief against premarital sex.
- Also last year, a school told a Catholic pupil that she could not wear a crucifix on a chain due to safety concerns, but that she could wear it as a pin.
- In 2006, a religious high school declared that non-Muslim girls had to wear headscarves while at school.
- In 2006 a teacher lost her discrimination suit after she was told she could not wear her headscarf during lessons.
- In 2005 a school won an appeal, approving the school's policy against the jilbab, head-to-toe religious dress. Girls were allowed to wear the hijab headscarf.
For more examples and pictures of the bangled pupil celebrating, read more.
Perhaps the difficulty of finding a universal standard makes some advocate for no religious symbols in schools at all. Should the law look for a bright-line standard, or assess the specifics of the situation on a case-by-case basis?