Teen girl banned from school for chastity ring heads to court

From staff and wire reports
July 05, 2007 at 9:02 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

ENGLAND - A teenage girl who was banned by her school from wearing a "purity ring" is taking her case to the High Court.

Lydia Playfoot, 16, is a member of a Christian group called the Silver Ring Thing and one of a number of students at the Millais School in Horsham, West Sussex, who wears a silver ring engraved with a Biblical reference — "1 Thes 434," a reference to St. Paul's Letter to the Thessalonians — as a sign of their belief in abstinence from sex until marriage.

She claims that her secondary school is breaching her human rights by preventing her from wearing the ring, while allowing Muslim and Sikh students to wear headscarfs and religious bangles.

The school denies her claims, arguing that the purity ring is not an integral part of the Christian faith, and contravenes its uniform policy.

Playfoot will argue that her right to express her religious beliefs under Article Nine of the Human Rights Act has been breached by the ban.

"At my school Muslims are allowed to wear headscarves and other faiths can wear bangles and other types of jewellery and it feels like Christians are being discriminated against," Playfoot told BBC Radio 4’s Today program.

The Silver Ring Thing was set up in America in 1996 as a response to the escalating numbers of teen pregnancies in Yuma, Ariz. Teenagers pay a few dollars for a silver ring and a Bible, and pledge not to have sex before marriage. The movement arrived in Britain several years ago.

Playfoot denied that wearing her silver chastity ring was a fad. "The idea is a bit American, but it's something I think is just really important. It's not just a fad sweeping across England, it is something unique, important to every single person," she told BBC Breakfast.

"It says that I’m not going to have sex until I’m married and I’m going to stay sexually pure until I’m married. In the Bible it says you should remain sexually pure and I think this is a way I want to express my faith.

"I think in the society we live in today with lots of pregnancies and STDs, something like this is quite important and should be taken hold of."

In a statement placed before the court, she said: “We are involved with SRT (Silver Ring Thing) as a movement to promote and educate young people on the issues of sexual purity."

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