Petitioner: Mark Gordon and Secular Scotland
19 June 2013
Calling on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to amend the Education (Scotland) Act 1980 by making Religious Observance (RO) in public schools an “Opt-In” activity rather than an “Opt-Out” one.
3 September 2013: The Committee took evidence from Mark Gordon, and Caroline Lynch, Secretary, Secular Scotland. The Committee agreed to write to the Scottish Government, Education Scotland, the Scottish Parent Teacher Council, Interfaith Scotland, a selection of local authorities, the Association of Headteachers and Deputes in Scotland and the Educational Institute of Scotland. Link to Official Report 3 September 2013 (587KB pdf)
12 November 2013: The Committee agreed to write to the Scottish Government. Link to Official Report 12 November 2013 (538KB pdf)
28 January 2014: The Committee agreed to refer the petition, under Rule 15.6.2, to the Education and Culture Committee. Link to Official Report 28 January 2014 (550KB pdf)
6 May 2014: The Education and Culture Committee agreed to close petition PE1487. The Committee also agreed to write to the Scottish Government on the wider issue of local authorities ensuring parents are aware of their rights to withdraw their child from religious observance in school. Link to Official Report 6 May 2014 (432KB pdf)
- Are you aware of your legal right to opt your child out of Religious Observance?
- Are you aware that less than 40% of parents know of this legal right?
- Are you aware that only around 20% are properly informed by the school of this legal right?
- Are you aware that this legal right is enshrined in the Education (Scotland) Act 1980 which states that parents must be given sufficient information upon which to base a decision?
- Are you aware that most parents don’t even get that chance because new legislation from 2012 oddly leaves this information out of the list of items that are mandatory for inclusion in school handbooks?
- Are you aware that children are, in some cases on a daily basis, forced to attend religious services because it is assumed their parents agree?
- Do you think it is right that when most Scots have no religious affiliation at all, the state still imposes Christian prayer upon them unless you opt out?
- Do you think it is right, if you are a non-Christian believer, that your child is forced to endure Christian religious observance unless you opt out?
- Do you think it is right that your child could be disadvantaged or considered different if you do exercise your legally protected right to opt out?
- Do you think it is right that your non-belief or disagreement with the State's preferred religion is made public and your right to privacy breached?
- Or do you keep quiet because the system currently encourages you not to “rock the boat” or upset a great teacher-parent relationship?
- Do you think that a system of religious observance where parents opt in and positively choose religious observance of a nature you desire will be fairer and more rewarding for all?