Antwerp: Two schools ban headscarves

Antwerp: Two schools ban headscarves

Starting September 1, 2009, all political and religious symbols will be banned in the city high schools (koninklijke atheneum) of Antwerp and Hoboken (Belgium), according to the new school regulations.  The administration decided to take this step to protected their students against the increasing group pressure of,  for instance, wearing a headscarf.

"We notice that the equality and freedom of our students is suffering," declared the school administrations. "It is possible that students feel obliged due to social pressure to wear political and religious symbols.  Therefore we will not allow it anymore."

Both schools are known for their high percentages of students of immigrant origin.  They lead an enforced equal-opportunity policy and want to maintain the balance through the regulation, so that everybody can develop in complete freedom.

In Antwerp there are no general guidelines for education institutions regarding headscarves and other symbols.  The school use their autonomy, according to alderman for education Robert Voorhamme, and the city does not intervene.  In certain city schools the headscarf is already forbidden.

Source: HLN (Dutch)

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