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Adam the Fish Offline
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Question Complain? - February 6th 2014, 05:21 PM

So. I was in a lesson today, just casually wearing my "Happy Humanist" badge - completely, in my interpretation (you could debate whether Humanism can count as 'religious' but it's basically there policy-wise), in line with school policy.
Other teachers, for weeks, have had no problems with it. I've even had a couple of questions, but no teachers have complained about it before. In the same way as no-one would (or should) complain if someone chose to, for example, wear a crucifix / cross.

Today, however, a teacher said that I shouldn't wear it; I pointed out the policy about being allowed to wear religious symbols (so long as it doesn't interfere with safety, learning, etc.), and she said "then move it to your bag or coat, where it's less prominent".
Upon reflection, I rather feel that (at the expense of making a mountain of a mole hill) she was being unreasonable and irrational. I don't think it violates school policy, and even if it did disrupt learning or compromise safety, it would do so no less on a bag or coat. The rather scathing tone she used was somewhat unnecessary, in my opinion, too.

I'd like to continue wearing my badge, as I see no reason not to; however, she'll pick up on it if I do, and I'd rather get things clarified beforehand. So, would it be alright for me to complain to another senior member of staff (she is Asst. Hd. herself), and get things sorted? I would raise it with her directly, however she's quite intimidating, and I'd rather not sound like I'm simply trying to be a smartarse. Which, however, do people think would be a better option - or should I not raise it at all, at the risk of sparking an argument in the next lesson I have with her?

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Re: Complain? - February 6th 2014, 06:04 PM

Hey Adam, In my experience, it's always better to go directly to the person with whom there is conflict before going "over her head", even if you really don't want to deal with her directly, the person in higher authority will see that you at least tried to settle it directly before making a fuss. If, after doing that, you still feel like it hasn't been resolved then you can go to the next person up and see what they say.

Sometimes, though it just makes more sense to go along with something to avoid starting conflict. It really depends how important it is to you that you be allowed to wear it in her class. It might just be easier to move it or remove it for one class a day. If you feel it's worth it, then by all means, complain, but make sure you go about it in the most responsible way.

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Re: Complain? - February 7th 2014, 09:44 AM

I've always assumed that non-religious people assume themselves to be Humanist by seeking to live good lives without the yoke of religious followings. As you are not subscribing to any religion, but following your own path in doing good for the common person, therefore you are not breaking school policy.

However, badges make a powerful statement and your teacher's reaction is only knee-jerk. If your classmates already know your Humanist position, then why wear the badge that clearly is aggravating the teacher involved? For a happier pupil-teacher relationship I would take the mature line and remove it, but write a formal letter to the Head Teacher of your school, explain the circumstances and ask for their view on school policy. It is perfect okay to go over the head of his/her assistant. All you would be doing is seeking an answer of which as pupil you are entitled to.

I could have a badge made declaring my membership of the Russian Orthodox Church of which I was baptised into after my adoptive mother took me on. I see no reason to do that because I dislike drawing attention from people. Would I be impertinent in asking why you wear your particular badge? By wearing it, what, at school, do you expect to gain?

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Re: Complain? - February 7th 2014, 04:25 PM

I'd seek clarification about the policy from a higher up and depending on how the policy is written, you may or may not be able to win this. If Christians or other mainstream religions are able to wear badges on their uniform, then maybe you can get away with it. However, if they are unable to wear those items because it is not a religious symbol. A cross is a bit different from a badge on a shirt that you can read. While a cross may be allowed, a badge saying "What would Jesus do" or "Happy Christian" may not be allowed.

If you had a small necklace or bracelet that said "humanist," then that would be a different matter. However, the fact that it is a badge that says "Happy Humanist" may defeat your cause unless the school lets other students wear badges that say other things like "Happy Jew" or "Happy Wiccan" or "Happy Christian."
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Re: Complain? - February 9th 2014, 09:16 AM

I'd be inclined to just remove the badge for that lesson/teacher, and not get too stressed over it. Frankly, it's not always worth the effort, even if you are right (and could poison your relationship). The other possibility is that the policy could be changed to be much more explicit, which could affect both you and other students.

If you do want to complain, you'd be best to talk to the teacher first. If you go higher, then whoever that is will get you to talk to your teacher anyway. Approach them first, then go higher if you feel the need.

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Re: Complain? - February 9th 2014, 05:32 PM

I agree with seeking clarification from the teacher first. Perhaps this teacher has had students wear badges in the past, which were distracting to other students or somehow created conflict (e.g., an argument over what the badge stated). They may be aware of the policy, but still have concerns, and you would be demonstrating a great deal of maturity by approaching the teacher before going over their head and "complaining." Even if/when you do go over their head, I wouldn't refer to your approach as a "complaint" - instead, you're seeking clarification from the "higher ups" in order to determine what the best solution would be in this particular instance.

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Re: Complain? - February 15th 2014, 01:43 AM

I definitely agree with asking your teacher first. Approach her calmly and politely, not like you're trying to challenge her or debate. Ask her why she felt that the badge was intrusive so you can better understand what she meant and avoid doing the same thing in the future. She'll likely give you an answer then.

If your badge was large and pinned to the front of your coat then it could have become disruptive. Something like a necklace, unless it had something offensive to others on it, would be different from a badge saying PROUD CHRISTIAN (for example) because the latter could end up being less discreet and drawing more attention.

She may also have assumed you just trying to be provocative on purpose. Again, a Christian wearing a cross pendant would be mostly wearing it out of personal devotion, while a Christian wearing a badge saying PROUD CHRISTIAN would sound more like a statement to others, which could end up being rude if there are multiple religions (and non-religious people) at the school.
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