Children are not predestined to follow in their parents' religious footsteps – we should restrict religious clothing from schools until children are intellectually mature enough to decide for themselves, writes one former teacher
Picture the scene. Let’s say it was becoming common for Labour party supporters to dress their children in Jeremy Corbyn T-shirts and pressure them to go without food or water for long periods of time as a political ritual. Growing numbers of those children then began wearing the T-shirts and taking part in the ritual at school.
The leaders of a school grew concerned that they were indoctrinating the children and marking them out as different. The ritual, they thought, was undermining their health and academic performance. They found no leadership from the government, so they banned the T-shirts for children younger than 8 and discouraged them from taking part in the ritual.
Then let’s imagine a vocal section of hardline Labour supporters reacted by setting up a petition against the decision, generating almost 20,000 signatures. The school received up to 500 emails per day, many of them threatening or abusive. Labour supporters who supported the restrictions faced abuse. The ban was lifted and the chair of governors resigned.
It wouldn’t be hard to see right and wrong. A school would have resisted the political labeling of children in an attempt to set an ethos of relative neutrality. It would not even have gone far enough because its restriction only applied to very young children. And the bullies would have won.