Oregon Repeals State Ban On Teacher Religious Garb

Oregon’s ban on teachers wearing religious dress is about to be repealed.

Both the Oregon Senate and House of Representatives have approved a measure to lift the religious garb restriction, and it is on its way to Gov. Ted Kulongoski for approval.

Civil rights groups sought to repeal the law, stating that it “denies equal employment opportunity to religious minorities.” They hailed the Oregon legislature’s actions as a victory for religious liberty, noting that Christian teachers have long been allowed to wear crosses in Oregon public schools, but head scarves and turbans were not permitted.

Americans United, though a strong supporter of free exercise, expressed concern over the language of the repeal bill. As currently written, the religious liberty protection may not extend to just dastars (turbans), hijabs and yarmulkes, but could allow teachers to claim any attire as part of their religious exercise, including proselytizing pins and t-shirts.