The head teacher at our local junior school has forbidden pupils to use expressions such as ‘Oh my god!’ [sic] and ‘what the hell’ because they are apparently regarded as swearing. She also claims that most schools have adopted this policy, but do they have a right to do this? Surely, short of profanities, children like anyone else have a right to freedom of expression under Article 10 of the Human Rights Act? I can understand those who might take offence at ‘Jesus Christ’ but these expressions contain just abstract words, not proper names.
As an atheist I frequently feel offended when people exclaim ‘bless you’ when I sneeze, but I don’t make a big deal about it. If it is the case that there is a general ban on such utterances, then schools are beginning to demonstrate an excessive political correctness over their charges. Moreover, where will it end? Is ‘good lord’ permissible? What about ‘Devil’s food cake’? On the basis that it’s supposed to be the ultimate eternal holiday destination, would ‘good heavens’ make a head teacher cross? (no pun intended) Would anyone like to play devil’s advocate in their reply?