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Sikh News House panel votes to allow teachers to wear head scarves, other religious dress

Discussion in 'Breaking News' started by Vikram singh, Feb 6, 2010.

  1. Vikram singh

    Vikram singh
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    House panel votes to allow teachers to wear head scarves, other religious dress

    By Betsy Hammond, The Oregonian

    February 05, 2010, 5:27PM

    After more than two hours of charged testimony and debate, the House Education Committee voted 6-4 this afternoon in favor of a bill that would end Oregon's 87-year ban that makes teachers the only people in Oregon who cannot wear religious dress at work.

    Most lawmakers on the panel said they struggle over the question of how schools would and should handle cases in which observant Muslims, Jews or even Wiccans assert their right to cover their heads or wear robes in accordance with their religious faith. Balancing the rights of children, who form a captive and trusting audience for the teacher, could be difficult or impossible, bill opponents and some lawmakers said.

    But committee chairwoman Sara Gelser, D-Corvallis, vice chair Michael Dembrow, D-Portland, and member Arnie Roblan, D-Coos Bay, a retired principal, said they had no reservations about ending the ban. House Speaker Dave Hunt, D-Gladstone, is the chief proponent of House Bill 3686.

    "Religious minorities are being discriminated against currently," Dembrow said. "The legitimate contribution they can make to our communities as teachers is being curtailed... Just because a woman is wearing a head covering, that is not bullying, that is not proselytizing."

    A panel convened by the Oregon Department of Education and the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries would spend the next year hashing out nitty-gritty rules to try to guide schools and protect both teachers and schoolchildren. The ban would lift on July 1, 2011.

    The primary opponents of the change are the leaders of the Oregon chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. They fear children will be proselytized if their teachers wear headscarves, crosses, Wiccan robes and other faith-related items.

    Charlie Hinkle, a lawyer testifying for the civil liberties group, drew a mild rebuke from Gelser with his testimony indicating that children and parents could be frightened and driven from the public schools if teacher are allowed to wear burkas, turbans or "full regalia like the mother superior in the Sound of Music."

    "About every other year a new private school opens in Oregon," Hinkle testified. Christian parents "have created those private Christian schools largely because they feel that the public school system is hostile to their religious beliefs. Those parents and people like them are going to feel even more so if their first-graders are being taught by Muslim women in burkas and Sikh teachers in turbans... I look forward to the day when the orthodox Jewish parent welcomes the fact that his 6-year-old daughter is going to be a captive audience in the Muslim teacher's or the Wiccan teacher's classroom for 180 days a year."

    Gelser responded directly to the substance of his testimony, something she rarely does when presiding over a hearing. "I just feel compelled to comment," she said. "I am a parent of young children. We happen to be a Christian family, fairly actively so.I would be alarmed if my children were frightened to meet a Muslim woman in a classroom. I would be frustrated to hear any expression in a public school that someone felt unwelcome or unsafe because there were Muslims that were teaching there."

    Most of the lawmakers who voted no on the bill said they are willing to consider lifting the ban on teacher religious dress but that the issue has moved too fast and needs further study.
    The bill now heads to the House floor.



    House panel votes to allow teachers to wear head scarves, other religious dress | Oregon Education - OregonLive.com
     
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  3. Tejwant Singh

    Tejwant Singh United States
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    Great news!

    This 87 year old ban was actually for the Catholic nuns with their habits and head coverings. I am glad that the efforts by SALDEF, Sikh Coalition and all other activist groups that helped in this bore positive fruits and want to thank them from the bottom of my heart.

    Finally, open-mindedness prevailed.

    Now, Sikhs, Muslims, Catholic Nuns, Amish and all others who use head coverings and want to be School teachers in Oregon can do that freely.

    Thanks Oregon State. Now, all other states that have similar restrictions should come to their senses.

    Tejwant Singh
     
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  4. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    Tejwant ji

    There are only 2 more states to go. I live in one of them - Pennsylvania. In truth I don't know what the third remaining state is. Maybe another forum member can tell us.
     

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