Oregon is one of three states that does not allow teachers to wear religious clothing in public schools. Speaker of the House Dave Hunt wants to change that before the end of the special legislative session. In 2009, the legislature made a specific exemption for schools when it passed a new law protecting religious expression in the workplace. Now, Hunt is championing a bill that would revoke the 87-year-old ban on religious garb such as head scarves, yarmulkes, turbans and crosses*.
While many religious groups applaud the effort to lift the ban, opponents argue that doing so would blur the line between church and state in Oregon public schools.
Are you a teacher or school administrator in Oregon? What’s your experience with religious dress in the classroom? If you’re a parent or a student, how do you think religious clothing affects education?
*Editor’s Note: A 1986 Oregon Supreme Court Case (Cooper v. Eugene School Dist. No. 4J) decision narrowed the ban on religious apparel and essentially exempted small jewelry such as crosses.
- Steven Green: Professor of law and director of the Center for Religion, Law and Democracy at Willamette University
- David Fidanque: Executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon