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National Secular Society

Challenging Religious Privilege


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Newsline 20 June 2019


We're delighted to announce that our third Bradlaugh Lecture will be delivered by Andrew Moffat. He is the assistant headteacher at Parkfield Community School in Birmingham, and creator of the 'No Outsiders' programme designed to teach children about equality and tolerance. No Outsiders resulted in aggressive protests outside the school, mainly held by Muslim activists, for daring to teach that LGBT+ people exist and that they should be treated as equal citizens. Tickets are now on sale for the Bradlaugh Lecture, which will be on Saturday 7th September at the Manchester Art Gallery, and cost just £10 for members.

It may seem shocking that the views of a minority of religious hardliners can have such an influence over education. But this is what we see every day. Last week alone, a new religiously-selective Catholic school was approved in Peterborough, possibly at the expense of new inclusive schools without a faith designation. In Manchester, a state-funded Jewish school was found unlawfully segregating pupils according to sex and religion. And the Catholic Church released a document, aimed at Catholic schools and educators, which seems to reject the very existence of transgender and intersex people.

There can be no doubt that religious groups continue to hold a sway over our children's education. But with your help we'll continue to stand against them. Please consider joining or donating to the NSS today to support our work. Thank you.


News & Opinion


Andrew Moffat to deliver Bradlaugh Lecture in Manchester

A teacher targeted by religious protesters for teaching about LGBT+ equality will speak at the National Secular Society's 2019 Bradlaugh Lecture.


NSS criticises decision to fund new discriminatory faith school

The National Secular Society has criticised government plans to fund a new religiously selective faith school in Peterborough.


Jewish school that segregates pupils fails inspection

A faith school that unlawfully segregates pupils has failed an inspection triggered by complaints.


What might Catholic schools teach about transgender and intersex people?

Megan Manson examines a new document outlining the Catholic Church's position on issues relating to sex and gender, and explains how this may lead to conflict in Catholic Schools.


Three failing Church of England schools warned by government

Three state-funded Church of England schools have been warned by the government following inspections.


Other news

Abdullah Patel, an imam who questioned Boris Johnson on his comments regarding the niqab during Monday's Conservative leadership BBC debate, was found to have made comments expressing anti-semitic views and blaming women for rape. Patel is listed as the headteacher of Al-Ashraf Primary School and Al Ashraf Secondary School for Girls, but the schools' trust has since suspended him.

Proposals by Neath Port Talbot Council to increase charges for school transport could see some children and young people having to change schools if their families can't afford the price hike, a senior officer has said. However, the council will continue to provide free non-statutory travel to those pupils attending their nearest faith school if they meet the distance criteria. The council considered scrapping the non-statutory free travel to pupils at faith schools in 2013.

The government has rejected an application to open a new voluntary aided Jewish faith school in Hertfordshire. The school would have been able to select 100% of its intake based on faith.

Gay and bisexual men in Scotland with historical prosecutions for same-sex sexual activity will be able to apply to have their convictions erased from October 15. MSPs passed legislation unanimously last year to grant an automatic pardon to every man in Scotland criminalised for breaching now repealed discriminatory laws.

The Canadian province of Quebec has passed legislation to prohibit civil servants in positions of "authority" from wearing religious symbols at work. Critics say that the legislation will effectively exclude religious Muslims, Sikhs and Jews from positions of authority in education and law enforcement, and that it runs roughshod over the freedom of religion and expression. But Quebec premier François Legault called the bill a necessary measure to ensure the separation between religion and state in the province. The bill, which passed 73 to 35, was supported by a majority of Quebecers. Existing employees will be exempt.

Stay in touch with all the latest news and views on secularism by signing up to receive your daily media briefing from the NSS.


Read elsewhere


This man spent 25 years fighting newspapers over their anti-gay reporting and finally won

By Patrick Strudwick, for BuzzFeed

Former NSS president Terry Sanderson charted media slurs against LGBT people from the 1980s onwards. He told BuzzFeed News how he won the first-ever ruling against the press for its anti-gay coverage.


Essay of the week

Northern Ireland? More like Republic of Gilead when it comes to abortion rights
By Tiff Stevenson, for Metro

"We are pointing fingers at America but our own house is certainly not in order."


Quote of the week

"It is not extremist to say the niqab is oppressive and ridiculous but should not be banned – on the contrary, that is a liberal, socially conscious point of view."
Brendan O'Neill defends Boris Johnson's comments about the niqab, saying the real extremists are those who want to protect Islam and its beliefs from public debate and ridicule.


Petition comment of the week: male circumcision

"It is unacceptable to circumcise children who are too young to give their consent just to follow religious beliefs."
Audrey, London

Sign the petition and explain why non-therapeutic infant genital cutting should end.


Petition comment of the week: end religious discrimination in school admissions

"My daughter has been refused a place at a Catholic School at the end of the road which her older sibling is in attendance at this year. The school was oversubscribed with new families from the other side of our town. My daughter has always believed along with us that she will be at school with her brother and her brother cannot understand why his sister will not join him based on faith."
Julietta, Northamptonshire

Sign the petition and explain why we should end religious discrimination in school admissions.

Alternatively, get involved in our No More Faith Schools campaign and help us to make the case against the government's wave of religiously selective faith schools.


NSS speaks out

Our chief executive Stephen Evans was quoted in The Times in its report that church delegates at Edinburgh city council could be stripped of their vote on education-related issues.

Stephen was also quoted in Peterborough Today commenting on a new Catholic school has been given the go-ahead in Peterborough.

NSS education and schools officer Alastair Lichten was quoted in Ekklesia on news that two independent faith schools which segregate children by sex and one which encourages girls to enter "caring professions" have been warned by the government.

And BBC News referenced our support for removing the right of parents to withdraw their children from sex education classes. The proposal is backed by NSS honorary associate Nia Griffith MP.


Support our work

Please support our work so we can make the case for a fairer secular democracy for all.


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