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CofE school fears cross is offensive

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A Church of England school has removed the cross symbol from its uniform, over fears that it may offend local Muslims.

Oak Church of England primary school, in Huddersfield, opened on 3 May – a merging of Crosland Moor juniors, Dryclough infants and Thornton Lodge nursery.

Originally the uniform badge contained a design of a cross on an oak tree, which had been designed by a pupil. Now, in a move that has prompted anger from parents at the school, the cross has been replaced by branches of the tree.

Cross design 'temporary'

In a letter to parents, head-teacher David Bendall claimed that the original design was only a temporary version and had not been confirmed.

Mother Niki Trepak, who has four children at the school, questioned this, saying: "Staff said people complained about the cross yet the head says it was only temporary. Why make temporary banners and temporary uniforms?"

Fear of offence

The school is in a diverse area with a high Muslim population, which has prompted some parents to question whether the cross had been removed over fears of causing offence.

Niki Trepak said that she had not heard any complaints from her Muslim friends.

"I've got quite a few Muslim friends at the school and I asked them does the cross offend you and they said no.

"This isn't about race, it's the fact they removed the cross so as to not offend. A Church of England school should keep the cross."

Christian foundation should be given respect

Chelsea Fox, another mother at the school, said: "The offensive card is always played and this one time I was proud of something, only to have it snatched back.

"I'm not only disappointed, I'm disgusted.

"Yes it has remained a Church of England school as it is the church that keeps it open. That needs to be given more respect.

"Thank the church for your children's school instead of complaining about a logo."

Mr Bendall said: "The logo was amended to give more prominence to the tree, which reflects the school name and is an ancient symbol representing many beliefs.

"Three branches signify Oak primary was three schools joining as one. Our ethos is that children of all backgrounds are treated the same."

Stark contrast

This decision to remove the Christian symbol of faith from the CofE school contrasts sharply with the increasing promotion of LGBT issues in schools.

Only weeks ago, 38,000 pupils took part in 'Schools Diversity Week', which aimed to tackle 'homophobic bullying'.

The initiative is organised by the charity Just Like Us, whose aims are to "empower and support young LGBTQ+ people to become active agents of change in making schools LGBTQ+ friendly places".

Debating Just Like Us CEO Tim Ramsey on Channel 5 News Andrea Williams, the Chief Executive of Christian Concern said that while we are "against bullying of any kind", what is being celebrated here is the "indoctrination of a lifestyle". Although "each one of us is beautifully and wonderfully made", she said, we do not have to promote "this idea that all lifestyles are equivalent [and] that all lifestyles bring equal good".

Related Links: 
Watch Andrea Williams discuss 'School Diversity Week' on Channel 5 News 
'LGBT diversity week' launched in schools 
UK schools allow boys to wear skirts as uniform 
Christian school assemblies breach children's rights, says UN  
Christian cross is removed from new school logo 'following complaints it was offensive' (Mirror)