Pupils punished for not attending Religious Observance

Pupils at a Roman Catholic high school in Motherwell have been suspended for failing to attend religious observance.

Up to 50 pupils at a state Catholic school in Motherwell, North Lanarkshire, have been suspended after they chose not to attend a Mass being held in the afternoon.

Pupils in Scotland have no legal right to opt-out of Religious Observance, which requires parental permission.

The Motherwell Times reported one senior pupil as saying:

“Although pupils are usually forced to go, there is not usually consequences for not being there and I believe it is unfair to have forced religious observance towards many pupils who may not be religious, me included.

“When I was 11 I did not have the choice of which school I would go to. To now move would be pointless, I should just be able to have an enjoyable last year, without being forced into detention for a whole week and banned from the social area.”

Last month HSS announced that it was to seek a Judicial Review of a recent decision by the Scottish Government which decided against extending the parental opt-out right to young people themselves.

Gary McLelland, Head of Communications and Public Affairs

Gary McLelland, Head of Communications and Public Affairs

Gary McLelland, HSS Head of Communications and Public Affairs, commented:

“This exactly highlights the issue we’re trying to take the Scottish Government to court on.

“We’re asking for the legal right for kids to opt out. This episode just shows that we have such an unreformed illiberal law in Scotland. That pupils have been suspended for not attending a religious service is just outrageous.”


For further comment please contact Gary McLelland on 07813060713 or gary@humanism.scot.

For more information on HSS’s legal challenge see: https://www.humanism.scot/what-we-do/news/humanists-to-challenge-scottish-government-in-courts/

About HSS: Humanist Society Scotland seeks to represent the views of people in Scotland who wish to lead ethical and fulfilling lives guided by reason, empathy and compassion. We provide a range of non-religious ceremonies and campaign for a secular state. HSS has over 14,000 members across Scotland.


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