Bill would repeal ban on teachers’ religious ‘garb’

A bill in the state House would lift restrictions on Pennsylvania teachers who may not wear clothing, emblems or insignias indicating their religious affiliation in the classroom.
Pennsylvania and Nebraska are the only two states with such laws left on the books. Oregon last year repealed its 1923 law banning teachers from wearing religious clothing in public classrooms.
Reps. Will Tallman and Eugene DePasquale want to remove the so-called “garb statutes” of the state Public School Code, enacted during the height of anti-Catholic sentiment in an effort to keep nuns and priests out of secular schools. According to the politicians, violators can be suspended for a year and multiple offenders risk permanent disqualification.
Previous challenges to the law’s unconstitutionality have failed in Pennsylvania: In 1990, an appeals court in Philadelphia rejected a religious discrimination claim against a school board for prohibiting a Muslim substitute teacher from wearing her religious clothing because it would place an “undue hardship” on the school.
DePasquale said in a statement that repealing the law is not to provide a pulpit for the teacher to promote his or her faith. “Instead, it is about providing for religious neutrality so every teacher, regardless of religious faith, may freely exercise his or her religion in the most ordinary way,” he said.

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One Response to Bill would repeal ban on teachers’ religious ‘garb’

  1. Valerie says:

    I really hope the restrictions are lifted. As a Muslim woman, I proudly show that I am Muslim by wearing my headscarf. I think anyone who is religious should be allowed to wear things expressing his or her religion As long as the teachers are not wearing something purposefully anti another religion or teaching ideologies of any religion (histories of those religions are very different) there should be no problem.

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