Court says ruling in schoolgirl case had nothing to do with Rastafarianism

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Court says ruling in schoolgirl case had nothing to do with Rastafarianism

Monday, August 03, 2020

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — The Supreme Court has stated that it's ruling on Friday in the controversial case of a Kensington Primary School student had nothing to do with Rastafarianism and religious freedom of expression.

The young girl's parents were asked in 2018 to cut her hair or remove her dreadlocks in order for her to attendthe institution.

The court said children have long been allowed to wear locks to school as a religious expression of their, and their parent's faith but noted that in this case, the hairstyle was a decision taken at home.

Full court statement here

“The claimant's attorney has argued that the parents were not obliged to disclose their religious preference to the school, and that acceptance of the child's variance from the policy espoused by the school was a matter of self-expression based on a decision taken in their home, which should be honoured and accepted without any question,” it said.

The court, in a 60-page document, indicated that it cannot be right for each individual to vary the rules of engagement with organisations, simply because a right exists to participate and avail ourselves of the benefit of publicly funded institutions, without proper reasons or justification.

“This may potentially mean that a student or their parent could wake up tomorrow and identify as whoever or whatever animate or inanimate object or personality they wish or identify themselves with any belief, and come to school 'expressed' that way in pursuance of their right of freedom of expression and a decision taken in the home.”

It concluded that the first claimant, the child's father, had no locus standi to bring a legal action against the school and that the constitutional rights of second claimant, the child– represented by her mother, have not been breached.

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