Jeroen Temperman (Erasmus University Rotterdam) has posted Religious Symbols in the Public School Classroom. The abstract follows.
This paper flags a couple of preliminary legal questions that are remarkably often ignored or trivialized by (international) courts. Underscoring the importance of identifying primary rights holders, genuine conflicting interests, and the obligations of duty bearers in symbol cases, this contribution illustrates that much depends on who can be identified as ‘symbol-displayer’ and who as ‘symbol-viewer’ and within which particular (public) setting. Focusing on public school education, the paper addresses such questions as under what circumstances may State neutrality be considered a legitimate ground for limiting fundamental rights. And who is actually supposed ‘to be neutral’ according to human rights law –– States, buildings, the ‘public square’, civil servants, teachers, students, and/or pupils? When does a symbol truly ‘interfere’ with the rights and freedoms of others or with public order? And who is to prove that? Also, what are the exact standards of proof in symbols cases?