Call for end to compulsory religious worship in Scottish schools

Fraser Sutherland

Children’s rights organisations have backed a report calling for an end to compulsory religious worship in Scottish schools.

A report by Together (Scottish Alliance for Children’s Rights) highlights 30 key issues for children and young people’s rights in Scotland.

The report is supported by over 60 organisations working with children and young people or specialising in human rights including NSPCC Scotland, Save the Children, Aberlour, Children in Scotland and the Scottish Youth Parliament.

One key issue the report highlights is failure to give young people the right to opt out of acts of worship during the school day potentially breaching their article 12 (the right to be listened to) and article 14 (the right to choose their religion/belief or not follow any) rights of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The report notes the failure of the Scottish government to give young people the right to opt out of religious worship in schools despite the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child recommending it take action four years ago.

Humanist Society Scotland chief executive Fraser Sutherland said: “For years the Scottish government have championed themselves as being world leading on children’s rights. However four years after being told to sort out religious worship in schools by the UN nothing has changed. Young people are still denied the right to decide if they attend religious worship during the school day in a clear breach of their rights.

“The government must respond with meaningful action to this latest report - one in a long line of calls over many years on this issue. We cannot have another generation of young people in Scotland denied their right to freedom of religion and belief in schools. All because government ministers fear standing up to some religious groups who back the status quo of refusing to give young people no choice.”

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