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THE TROUBLE WITH WHITE POPPIES
Independent young people whether in school, scouts, church or some other groups are not infrequently asked to remove their white poppy. Sean's story is one of many examples.
At Sean’s school, as in many other schools each November, white poppies were on sale side by side with red ones. Teachers wanted to provide children with the opportunity to think about war and its causes and let pupils choose how they responded to it.
Sean chose the white poppy, which he felt most reflected what he felt, and bought it with his pocket money. He wore it proudly at the Sunday Scouts parade. But his Scoutmaster told him to take it off: it was, he said, ‘not an appropriate symbol for Remembrance Day’, and he gave Sean a red poppy to wear instead.
Sean well understood the significance of the white poppy, and did not see why he should not be able to wear it in church or anywhere else. The vicar who officiated at the service thought the same, and said he was pleased to welcome anybody into church whether they were wearing a white poppy or a red one.
What did Sean do with his white poppy? ‘I put it back on as soon as I went outside.’
Whilst many schools make white poppies available to their pupils and see their use as an educational exercise some schools are resistant to what they call propaganda. Some schools that have decided to have white poppies available have withdrawn them after a protest, usually by no more that one or two parents, but accompanied by ‘shock horror’ headlines in the local paper.