An American child who has been educated at home by her Christian mother has been ordered to attend a Government-run school so she can learn about other belief systems.
The court conceded that the New Hampshire ten-year-old is bright, sociable and academically advanced for her age, but decided she should no longer be home schooled.
The reason, says her mother’s attorney, is simply that the girl’s “religious beliefs are a bit too sincerely held” and need to be “mixed among other worldviews”.
“This is a step too far for any court to take”, the attorney said.
The little girl’s parents are divorced, and her mother has been educating her at home since first grade with a curriculum that “more than” keeps up with required academic standards.
However, when the terms of the child’s parenting plan were re-negotiated recently, the official representing her interests raised concerns about her religious beliefs.
The guardian ad litem told the court that the girl “appeared to reflect her mother’s rigidity on questions of faith” and that the girl’s interests “would be best served by exposure to a public school setting”.
She should be taught “different points of view at a time when she must begin to critically evaluate multiple systems of belief”, the guardian ad litem argued.
The court accepted his arguments despite conceding that the girl is “well liked, social and interactive with her peers, academically promising, and intellectually at or superior to grade level”.
The girl’s father is also reportedly concerned about her ‘socialisation’.
The girl’s mother is appealing the court’s decision with the support of the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), an American organisation that works to defend religious liberty.
Her attorney, John Anthony Simmons, said: “Parents have a fundamental right to make educational choices for their children.
“In this case specifically, the court is illegitimately altering a method of education that the court itself admits is working”.
ADF Senior Legal Counsel Mike Johnson added: “The New Hampshire Supreme Court itself has specifically declared, ‘Home education is an enduring American tradition and right'”.
He continued: “There is clearly and without question no legitimate legal basis for the court’s decision, and we trust it will reconsider its conclusions.”
In May it was reported that a Christian couple were appealing against a conviction under German law for withdrawing their eleven-year-old daughter from sex education classes.
Willi and Anna Dojan, who have eight children and are active members of the Christian Evangelical Baptist Church, said the content of the classes conflicted with their beliefs about sexuality.
There are no laws against home schooling in the UK, although home educating parents recently objected to the Government’s decision to carry out an investigation of the current system.
The review has been prompted by concerns that home schooled children might not be receiving a “suitable education”, although many parents argue they chose to home educate because of failures in the state system.
The Government says it has “no plans to change parents’ well established rights to educate their children at home”.