Sometimes, we just have to shake our heads. A court’s decision to keep a teenager from wearing her “purity ring” at school made us have one of those moments.
A London High Court ruled Monday that 16-year-old Lydia Playfoot could not wear a silver ring to show her commitment to remain a virgin until she is married. Wearing that ring is against school rules that ban jewelry, the court said.
Fine, it’s against the rules. But that’s where the court should have stepped in and changed the rules.
Playfoot said in court that the ring is a symbol of her faith and she should be allowed to wear it regardless of the anti-jewelry rule her West Sussex school has in place, according to a report from Reuters, a British news agency.
Playfoot’s parents are heavily involved in the British branch of the American chastity-promoting group the Silver Ring Thing. The group is targeted toward middle-schoolers and teenagers. Its message is one of abstinence until marriage.
Teenagers who agree to that and join the group show their commitment by wearing a silver ring on the third finger of the left hand. It’s not a flashy piece of jewelry. Nothing about it is distracting or attention-grabbing.
The ring is inscribed with “ I Thess. 4: 3-4.” That Biblical passage reads: “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable.” Yet, the British court ruled that the ring is not an integral part of Playfoot’s Christian faith.
Lawyers for the school said it was not discriminating against Playfoot, but that the ring simply was not acceptable, according to school regulations. Playfoot’s attorneys argued that the school is denying her the “freedom of thought, conscience and religion” which are protected by the European Convention on Human Rights. We believe her attorneys are in the right, and it baffles us that the court missed it.
We argue over a lot of things here in eastern North Carolina.
We argue over ACC basketball teams and who serves the best barbecue. In the newsroom, we argue over headlines and wordy sentences and whose turn it is to pick up lunch.
In our schools, we argue over whether students should be allowed to wear jeans or khakis, whether their shirts should be only red or white or blue. We debate whether they should be allowed to wear coats inside buildings. But we can’t imagine arguing over a student’s decision to wear a chastity ring.
The idea that anyone would tell her she couldn’t just leaves us shaking our heads.