Distress and Discrimination at School: News Roundup

This week, schools were all over the news for discrimination in hiring and an allegedly unconstitutional establishment of religion. Workplace bias and discrimination also made a mark, and the constantly-growning furor over potential burqa bans continued to make headlines. And, as always, a study!

An Indiana third-grader and her parents are suing the Fort Wayne Community Schools over a religious class, reports the Fort Wayne News Sentinel. Haley Elementary, held hour-long religious classes, called Weekday Religious Education and run by Associated Churches of Fort Wayne, in trailers on school grounds. The suit says that after the student's parents found out she attended the religious program, they voiced their objections and she was removed from the program – but not before “suffering irreparable harm,” according to the suit.

“Associated Churches of Fort Wayne and Allen County has since 1944 offered the weekly classes in which students learn the Bible during school day sessions in mobile classrooms that are nicknamed "little churches on wheels" . . . The group says the classes are non-denominational and use the Good News Bible as a textbook. The class, the website says, ‘is based on understanding the word of God and applying it to our lives, living as an example of God's love, and trying to be more like Jesus every day,’” writes the Louisville Courier-Journal
A Belfast teacher who was allegedly laid off because of her religious beliefs won her religious discrimination case. The school’s guidelines stated that staffing should reflect the religions of the students; as the Roman Catholic student population grew, four Protestant teachers were selected for layoffs.
 
The tribunal that decided the case found that the teacher "received the treatment she did because of her religion, or at the very least, to the extent that the respondents' motives could be said to be mixed, her religion was an important factor in the respondents' decision-making process. The fact that the respondents acted with good intentions in the interests of the school does not provide them with a defence." (Tribunal backs redundant teacher, Belfast Telegraph.) PersonnelToday.com also reports.
 
In other workplace news, the New York Times published a piece on the “Balancing Of Church and Cubicle,” while in Canada, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario found that a Home Depot employee was discriminated against after he was subject to “rude and offensive comments and conduct” for refusing to replace his turban with a hard hat. The Toronto Sun reports.  
 
There are also some updates on stories we’ve covered in the past:
  • A Clackamas County judge (Oregon) ruled this week that parents who belong to a church that practices faith healing must surrender their child for failing to provide adequate medical care, OregonLive.com reports.  Treatment was ordered for the child and temporary custody given to the Department of Human Services.
This week also saw a study tied in to the burqa debate. Yesterday, Pew released findings from a survey looking at levels of support for bans on face-covering veils. Not surprisingly, France was in the lead with an 82% support rate, followed by Germany, Britain and Spain. (In the US, support for a ban stands at only 28%.)

Finally, one of our Peacemakers in Action, Sakena Yacoobi, was interviewed by the Council for a Parliament of the World's Religion – read the full interview here!