Odd case this one – a girl suing her school (which she’s leaving this year having finished her GCSEs) because they banned her from wearing her ‘Silver Ring Thing(tm)’ Ring. The SRT is a movement, not a religion. Check out the main website and its Vision and Business Plan. It is also a very odd idea. I have no problem with the idea of abstinence, although equally I don’t think it’s a big sin to have pre-marital sex. I think that making kids proclaim it with a ring is bizarre. But encouraging pledging kids to meet up and date but not go beyond a certain point, while expecting them to abide by their promise is startlingly naive and a recipe for failure. That’s not just my opinion, as a study from Texas bears out
The school concerned is Millais, in our neighbouring town of Horsham. Millais is an all-girls school, twinned with Forest Boys school. In three months time, most of the able students (and we can assume, I hope, that Lydia Playfoot is able) go on to do their A and AS levels at Collyer’s Sixth Form College.
I happened to go to Collyer’s myself, and the Millais girls were suddenly, at 16, among the testosterone-filled boys from Forest, not to mention the worldly lads from Tandridge (Horsham’s mixed school) and a few chirpy Crawley wide boys. A real test of anyone’s pledge of abstinence that, I think.
But, even so, the idea that a ring (a corporately produced one at that) is a religious symbol on a par with the Sikh kara bracelet is ridiculous. The kara is part of the central core of Sikhism, one of the ‘Five Ks’. While it is disputed, the Islamic practice of hijab has a real history. Millais would allow the wearing of a crucifix, a real Christian symbol, so it’s not like Christians are being persecuted or anything.
The fact that her parents are themselves heavily involved in the Silver Ring Thing in the UK suggests to me that this is not about her rights, as much as it is about their campaign. Now that is a true religious tradition – the use and control of the young to further the ends of the people running it.