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British Humanist Association Launches Website For Pupils Attending Faith Schools

'Faith Schoolers Anonymous' pitched as blogging platform and source of support for pupil whistleblowers

  • British Humanist Association Launches Website For Pupils Attending Faith Schools

Secular campaigning charity the British Humanist Association (BHA) has set up a new website aimed at current and former pupils of faith schools.

The main aim of Faith Schoolers Anonymous is twofold – to give pupils a means of sharing their experience of educational and social issues within faith schools in the form of user-submitted blogs, and a way to confidentially report immediate problems or concerns via a dedicated whistleblowing form. The site also includes advice regarding pupils’ legal rights and details of other secular support organisations.

According to the BHA’s director of public affairs and policy, Pavan Dhaliwal, “The reason we’re launching this site now is to try to provoke a much greater awareness not only of the problems that arise within individual religious schools, but also of the problems that such schools, by their very nature, create.

“We acknowledge, of course, that there are plenty of “faith” schools out there in which problems of the kind described in some of the blogs do not arise, or do not arise to the same extent – but it remains the case that there are a huge number of people out there who have experienced indoctrination, misinformation, discrimination, neglect, and abuse during their childhoods as a result of the extensive freedoms and pervasive lack of oversight that “faith” schools of all kinds enjoy.”

The site’s user-submitted blogposts will be organised according to nine different faith categories – ‘Accelerated Christian Education’ (ACE); ‘Charedi Jewish’; ‘Exclusive Brethren,’; ‘Muslim’; ‘Steiner’; ‘Modern Orthodox Jewish’; ‘Jehovah’s Witnesses’; ‘Catholic’; and ‘Church of England’, plus ‘Other’.

Dhaliwal concludes, “For the sake of the children still experiencing these problems, and for those who have all of this ahead of them, these stories need to be told, and we would encourage anyone who has had experiences of this kind to get in touch.”

Quotes from the site so far
“Packets of Accelerated Christian Learning state that homosexuality is a perversion of God’s plan, and that HIV can be avoided by adhering to a rigid moral code. This was also reflected in school rules, in which identifying as gay can typically result in (at best) punishment and (at worst) expulsion and/or public shaming and prayer.”
– Contributor to the site’s ACE section

“Physical punishment was commonplace and the atmosphere was one of perpetual fear. Religious studies were the core focus, and any form of dissent, even something as slight as not concentrating during daily prayers, was harshly penalized.”
– Contributor to the site’s Charedi Jewish section

“We had no choice of beliefs, either we followed the school’s view of Islam or we were breaking school rules. It is important to really understand this – students were not given a choice about whether they wanted to practice Islam or not, and what type of Islam they followed. If we rebelled against the conservative Islamic school rules we could face detentions, suspension, public humiliations, cleaning, fines and expulsion.”
– Aliyah Saleem (co-founder of the organisation Faith to Faithless), contributing to the site’s Muslim section

For more information, visit faithschoolersanonymous.uk or follow @faithschoolsanon

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