Tuesday, November 15, 2016

British Court Says Sex Segregated Religious Schools OK Under Equality Act

In Interim Executive Board of X School v Chief Inspector of Education, Children's Services And Skills, (EWHC (Admin), Nov. 8. 2016), a British trial court held that sex-segregated classes from the 5th grade on in an Islamic school do not violate the Equality Act 2010. In reaching its conclusion, the court distinguished U.S. Supreme Court case of Brown v. Board of Education. The High Court judge said in part:
The essence of her case is that "making separate but equal provisions for boys and girls (or blacks and whites, or heterosexuals and lesbians and gay men etc.) cannot be divorced from the historic and current societal treatment of the less powerful group." Put another way, but to the same effect, segregation has the tendency to promote social and cultural stereotypes about the role of women in society....
Insofar as segregation on the ground of sex is practised in mixed schools in the UK, it is a practice carried out by a minority of schools with a Jewish, Christian and Islamic ethos, with the full participation of parents.
In short, segregation in mixed schools in this country is not the practice of government; it cannot be envisaged as any reflection of the mores and attitudes of wider society; it is only capable of being seen as a reflection of the mores, attitudes, cultures and practices of the faith groups who have been permitted to do it.
Law & Religion UK has more on the case.