Equality and Human Rights

Equality and Human Rights Case service for school pupils in Scotland

Govan Law Centre’s Education Law Unit  provides a Scotland-wide service to promote the rights of pupils who have been discriminated against, have been denied equality of opportunity or have had their human rights breached while at school in Scotland.

Our equality and human rights service seeks to promote and enforce the rights of pupils in Scotland through case work. We can help school pupils by providing them with advice, information and representation in discrimination or human rights cases.

Religion and belief

Your religion or belief should not interfere with your right to be treated fairly at school. You should not be treated less favourably because you have no religious beliefs, either.


Disabled pupils have the right not to be discriminated against. Schools must take reasonable steps to avoid placing disabled pupils at a disadvantage. It is unlawful to treat a disabled pupil less favourably than a non-disabled pupil in the same circumstances.


No school pupil should be treated differently because of their gender, or because of an issue related to their gender, such as becoming pregnant.


Wherever you were born, wherever your parents came from, whatever the colour of your skin, you have a right to be treated fairly. Your school should take steps to protect you from any bullying or harassment no matter what the reason for it.

Sexual orientation

Whether you are gay, lesbian, bisexual or straight should not put you at a disadvantage at school. Your school has a duty to protect you from homophobic bullying or harassment.

Human Rights that may apply to school pupils include:

  • The right to education (Protocol 1, article 2); – being told that you can’t attend school for any reason may be a breach of this right.
  • The right not to be subject to inhuman and degrading treatment (Article 3); if someone treats you in a way that makes you feel humiliated at school this right may have been breached.
  • Freedom of conscience, thought and religion (Article 9); Perhaps if you are told you can’t wear a particular item that is an expression of your religion or if your school cafeteria only serves food that you can’t eat because of your religious beliefs then this right has been breached.
  • The right to freedom of expression (Article 10); if you feel you are penalised for refusing to take part in something because of your beliefs, it is possible that this right has been breached.

Did you know?

  • There are over 35,000 pupils who are either based in a special school or have additional support needs in primary or secondary schools in Scotland.
  • Overall, 70 per cent of pupils with additional support needs are boys.
  • There are almost 11,000 pupils assessed or declared as having a disability.
  • There are 138 different languages reported as the main home language of pupils in Scottish schools. The most common after English were Punjabi and Urdu, with Polish moving into third place, followed by Cantonese, Arabic, French and Gaelic.

What can we do to help?

  • Advise you on your rights
  • Provide a 1:1 appointment
  • Aim to resolve your case through negotiation with the school or education authority on your behalf.
  • Support you to raise a legal action in court and represent you (Legal Aid is often available so that there is no cost to you).
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