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Italian Court of Cassation, Joined Chambers ,(Corte di Cassazione), No. 24414/2021, 9 September 2021


Compatibility profiles between the order of display of a religious symbol given by a school head of a state professional institute on the basis of a resolution passed by the students' assembly, and the freedom of teaching and conscience in the religious field. Absence of discrimination on a religious basis.

Normative references

Art. 19 Italian Costitution
Art. 118 of Royal Decree no. 965 of 1924 (Internal organization of the councils and royal institutes of middle education).


1. Art. 118 of the royal decree n. 965 of 1924, which includes the crucifix among the school furnishings, must be interpreted in full compliance with the letter of the Constitution and constitutional principles. It follows that the school community has full power to choose whether to display the crucifix in the classroom through a vote that represents the precipitate of all the convictions of the same community. In the event that discordant positions emerge, it is necessary to seek a point of connection through a "reasonable accommodation".

2. The school director's circular, consisting of the order to post the crucifix, is to be considered illegitimate as it does not comply with the constitutionally oriented interpretation of the discipline on school furnishings which provides for a reasonable accommodation between the will expressed by the students and the position of the dissenting teacher. Given the illegality of the school director's circular, the disciplinary sanction imposed on the teacher who had removed the crucifix from the classroom at the beginning of his lessons is to be considered invalid and therefore ineffective. 

3. The school director's circular does not integrate any form of discrimination based on religion against the (dissenting) teacher and therefore the request for damages made by the teacher is to be considered unfounded. The head teacher, in fact, did not exercise the public function held in a religious sense nor did he condition in any way the freedom of expression and teaching of the teacher, but he acknowledged the will of the students regarding the presence of the crucifix.