Judges rule gender segregation at faith schools unlawful

The court of appeal has ruled that an Islamic faith school in Birmingham was unlawfully breaching equality legislation by separating male and females.

In their decision, the appeal judges said:

It is common ground that the school is not the only Islamic school which operates such a policy and that a number of Jewish schools with a particular Orthodox ethos and some Christian faith schools have similar practices.

The judges commented there was “a strong argument” for the Education Secretary and Ofsted:

to recognise that, given the history of the matter, their failure (despite their expertise and responsibility for these matters) to identify the problem and the fact that they have de facto sanctioned and accepted a state of affairs which is unlawful, the schools affected should be given time to put their houses in order in the light of our conclusion that this is unlawful sex discrimination.

The relevant central government authorities should not pivot in the way they have gone about this without recognising the real difficulties those affected will face as a consequence,

It is understood there are around 20 schools in England operating a “segregation policy” and are likely now to have to make changes. Humanist Society Scotland are not aware of any schools operating such a segregation model in Scotland.

Fraser Sutherland, HSS Campaigns and Communications Manager

Fraser Sutherland, Campaigns and Communications Manager of Humanist Society Scotland welcomed the decision and said:

The decision was partially made on the basis that segregating boys and girls fails to prepare pupils for life and work in modern Britain.

Another way a schooling system based on individual faiths fails to prepare pupils is by splitting them from those of other faiths and none. We all live, work and get on with people of different faiths and none, yet it’s still seen as acceptable to segregate children at school.

It’s time to bring children of all faiths and none together and understand they have more in common than in difference.


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