The Lancashire Telegraph reports that female students at a high school in Blackburn are ‘rebelling’ against the introduction of a ‘uniform’ headscarf. Pleckgate High School has introduced a school policy on headscarves after concerns were voiced on health and safety grounds due to the ‘size’ of scarves being worn. Some of the Muslim students have stated that they are uncomfortable with the new designs.
From the LT:
“Muslim schoolgirls have rebelled against a school’s attempts to bring in a headscarf policy following students sporting ‘very, very big hijabs, posing a real health and safety risk’.
“Pleckgate High School, Blackburn, is now working with a group of year 11 girls to design its third version of the headscarf, after many refused to wear the previous suggested models.
“Girls complained the first version, introduced 12 months ago, fitted uncomfortably on their heads, leading the school’s governers to request a redesign.
“However the second model has been described by students as ‘nun-like’, and was also met with complaints.
One of the students told the paper that “I think it’s about time they asked our opinions, it’s the only way to get the girls to wear the scarf.”
The article continues that “Anjum Anwar, dialogue development officer at Exchange, said…“It’s always better to have a conversation about uniform with others who have already done it, with an Islamic school about what sort of a headscarf is suitable for young girls.”
“The Department for Education states that schools are expected to act reasonably in accommodating the needs of different religions and encourages schools, parents and pupils to work together to resolve any issues locally.
“Cherry Ridgway, headteacher at the school, said: “We found some of the girl’s headscarves were getting very, very big and were posing a real health and safety risk, as in incidents of hijabs hanging over bunsen burners in science and this made us take the step of bringing in a uniform one.
“A small handful of girls complained, saying it was uncomfortable and refused to wear it and they have been allowed to continue wearing their own.
“We listened to the girls’ complaints and corrected the issues on the second design, but a few girls still weren’t happy with it.
“We now have a group of girls working with the deputy head to come up with a design they will be happy with.
“But some girls want to wear them in all colours and with various sparkly things on them, which doesn’t seem to be about modesty, but about something else.”
The issue of respecting modesty is an important issue for many Muslim women, some of whom choose to wear a headscarf. That the school is taking steps to accommodate their choices is commendable. Such developments have been seen in relation to sports and the innovation of ‘sports hijabs’, and in Britain, the scouts have also developed a uniform which is designed to enable Muslim girls to feel “comfortable without being restricted”.
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