Friday, December 17, 2010

Of weapons, religion and recess.

Yesterday I received a letter home from the Superintendent of schools about a recent situation at one of the other elementary schools in our district. ...

 "A student found wearing a religious emblem that resembles a small (three to five inches) saber.  At the time the emblem was discovered, the principal examined the item and found it had no sharp edges.  He returned the emblem to the student and his parents at that time." 

I knew immediately what this emblem was.  You see, my hometown has one of the largest Indian communities in Michigan.  My daughter's elementary school is about 10-20% Indian.  My son's Montessori preschool is about 60% Indian (yes, majority Indian students).  And, there is quite a diversity of religions represented from India in our town -- mostly Hindu, but also Christian, Muslim and Sikh.  Sikhs, as it turns out, are required to wear a symbolic dagger, called a kirpan, after they are baptised (they also cover their hair with turbans). I'm sure you know now, too, what was found on this elementary student.

A kirpan necklace
After reading this first paragraph of the letter I received home, I was relieved.  It sounded like all the proper steps were taken.  Someone saw a student with something they thought was a weapon. It was examined, and determined to be a religious emblem, NOT sharp, and NOT a weapon.  Therefore, the student was allowed to keep his emblem. Safety protocol was followed, and this student's freedom of religion was respected.

However.  Then I kept reading.  The letter stated much about legal blah blah and "look-a-like" weapons, and "values its diverse community." Anyway, at the end of the letter it stated,

"Until such a time as a compromise is reached, any and all religious emblems that resemble a weapon are strictly prohibited."


It appears that the district changed its mind.  Why?  I had to find out.  There was a article in our local paper about it.  The kid who saw the kirpan during recess has a paranoid intolerant concerned mother, and she complained. She said,

“Who's to say that all Sikh children are stable? If there were just one style of kirpan, and it was small and blunt, and it was the only one that's available, I'd say let's consider making an exception to the rule. But when I went online and see the variety of kirpans available, and I have a kid starting high school next year, and it scares me.”

Ack.  Really?  First -- I don't even know how to approach her first comment.  It stinks of prejudice. Second, I think that the principal of the school already determined that if the kirpan was SHARP, than it would NOT be allowed.

So much for rationale, common sense thought these days.  I'll let you know how this one pans out.

This is a Sikh boy playing Santa during my daughter's winter program a few years back at her school.  He's wearing a red turban for the occasion!  Do you think he's wearing his kirpan under that Santa suit?  GASP!

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ace and friends co. said...

yowza. some people's ignorance never cease to amaze. hope your staying warm in MI (this snows is killin' me!) anyway... your newest social parade follower. happy friday night! would *love* a follow back. you can find me at:

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Jen said...

I love your blog banner! I'm your newest follower--you're almost at 100 on GFC!
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The Blue Zoo said...

Geez. I agree, nothing sharp or weapon like should be allowed. But geez, why does one crazy mom have to ruin it for everyone else?

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