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‘Whilst I may not require you to pay for this I must require your child to participate…’
From UK Mail Online:
A Roman Catholic schoolgirl has been labelled a truant after she refused to wear a headscarf during a compulsory trip to a mosque.
Amy Owen, 14, and fellow girl pupils at a Catholic secondary school were told to cover their heads and wear trousers or leggings out of respect for their Muslim hosts.
But when her mother objected, saying she did not want her daughter to ‘dress as a Muslim’, she received a sternly worded warning letter from the headmaster saying she had no choice.
Michelle Davies’ daughter Amy Owen was ordered to wear a headscarf and trousers or leggings for a school trip to a mosque
Peter Lee, head of Ellesmere Port Catholic High School in Cheshire, informed her that the local diocese ‘requires’ pupils to have an understanding of other religions.
In the letter – with words in block capitals and underlined – Mr Lee said the visit was ‘as compulsory as a geography field trip’.
He added: ‘There are two reasons for these visits. One is that the scheme of work in religious studies REQUIRES children to have knowledge and understanding of other world religions.
‘The second is that the school is REQUIRED to promote tolerance respect and understanding. This is known as community cohesion.
‘A failure to do this could result in an unwelcome inspection judgement. None of us would relish that.
‘Whilst I may not require you to pay for this I must require your child to participate.’
Amy’s mother Michelle Davies refused to back down and, after being told no teachers would be back at school to keep an eye on her daughter, she kept her at home, citing religious objections – as did as many as ten other families.
Yesterday, after the school acted on its threat to class Amy’s absence as truancy, Miss Davies accused it of discriminating against Christian pupils.
‘It’s like they’re putting a gun to your head – either you go to a mosque, or you’re marked down as an unauthorised absence on your record – that’s it no two ways about it,’ the 34-year-old said.
‘It’s like they are saying she is playing truant for not wearing a head scarf. If the trip had been without the leggings and the headscarf, that would have been fine but I wasn’t having my daughter dressed in the Muslim way.
‘She’s proud of her school uniform and what it represents and she should be able to wear it like she would on any normal school trip.
The trip to the mosque was organised so that students could ‘deepen their understanding and broaden their knowledge’ of Islam
‘She likes to learn, she takes history and she is really interested in it, she wants to learn, but she can do that her classroom without changing the way she dresses.
‘I even did some research on the internet about non-Muslims attending mosques and it says you don’t have to adhere to the dress code.
‘I also fail to see how a three-hour trip to a mosque is of any educational value to a Catholic when she can learn about the Muslim faith in the classroom.
‘I can guarantee that if there were ten Muslim girls coming to our school it would adhere to what they wanted, because that’s their faith, their religion, their dress code.’
Parents were asked to make a £3 payment towards the Year 9 trip to the Al Rahma Mosque in Liverpool last month, and an 11-point dress and behaviour code from the mosque was circulated.
Miss Davies, a home help, of Ellesmere Port, added: ‘There are some parts of religious education lessons that children who are Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t have to attend because that’s part of their religion, and the fact is Amy is Catholic and not a Muslim.’
Last year, Ofsted praised the school’s ‘caring Catholic ethos’ but said it needed to do more ‘to enhance wider cultural development’.
The school says the trip was an exciting and unique opportunity for students