• Teachers banned from wearing religious symbols

    Date: 08.03.09 | by Judge Tom.

    Oregon has become the third state (joining Pennsylvania and Nebraska) that specifically prohibits teachers from wearing “any religious dress while engaged in the performance of duties as a teacher.” The state legislature recently passed the Oregon Workplace Religious Freedom Act that was signed into law by the governor in July, 2009.

    The new law allows workers in Oregon to express their religious views by wearing turbans, yarmulkes or hijabs, for example, while at work. Exceptions are made for safety requirements or undue hardship on an employer. It also protects a worker’s right to observe religious holidays without fear of losing their job.

    Photo by Andres Rueda

    Not included in the law are teachers in public schools. Because they occupy a unique position with impressionable children, the exclusion of teachers from this religious freedom act keeps religion out of the classroom.

    Would you be offended if your teacher wore a religious cross to school, or a yarmulke (a Jewish skullcap)? Would those symbols alone send a message to you about religion or your teacher’s ability to teach? Would you think differently of a teacher who brought his or her personal religious beliefs into the classroom? What does separation of church and state mean to you?

    Judge Tom

    This post was written by Judge Tom. Judge Tom is the founder and moderator of AsktheJudge.info. He is a retired juvenile judge and spent 23 years on the bench. He has written several books for lawyers and judges as well as teens and parents including the recently published 'Teen Cyberbullying Investigated' (Free Spirit Publishing). When he's not answering teens' questions, Judge Tom can be found hiking, traveling and reading.

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    1 Comment subscribe to these comments.

    • kellyann
      Fri, 20 Nov 2009 at 08:04

      Wellllll, i feel that there is a line, a cross necklace or yarmulke wouldn’t be a big deal. or even religious dress, within reason. Teh trouble comes when the teacher trys to inforce thir beliefs on the students,that is where there would be problems. However teachers have rights also and as long as they don’t try and convert studnents they should eb intitled to freedom of relioion just as anyone else. Also, students wear reliouous dress and symbols all the time to school.