Catholic school backs homework pass for attending a religious event
A recent Article in the Irish Times “Catholic school backs homework pass for attending a religious event” highlights the discrimination that minorities face in the vast majority of schools in Ireland.
Children that go to mass or choir practice outside school hours are given a reward for attending. The reward is that they get off their homework in school.
Children that do not attend the mass or choir practice do not get this reward. This of course must include children from minority backgrounds who do not attend mass or choir practice because they are not belong to catholic families.
Under the Equal Status Act discrimination occurs when one person is treated less favourably than another. If that less favourably treatment is as a result of requirements that they might find hard to satisfy then it is discrimination.
There is a Constitutional right to not attend any religious teaching or ceremonies. The Education Act 1998 gives parents the right to opt their children out of anything that is against their conscience. This is a condition of the State funding of National schools with a Catholic ethos.
Children from minority backgrounds cannot satisfy the requirement of the reward scheme that they attend mass or choir practice. The reason that some children cannot satisfy the requirement is because their parents have exercised their Constitutional Right to opt them out of any Catholic religious teaching or ceremonies because they are not Catholic.
Children understand this discrimination, they know it is unfair and they get really upset about it. When implementing this policy their school just doesn’t care how they feel about it and the fact that they will always be left out because they are not from Catholic families.