HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — A bipartisan effort is underway to get a law off the books for the people who taught us about books.
The Pa. Senate Education Committee is backing legislation that would allow teachers to wear religious garb.
“Today we are the last state to have this provision still on the books, as Nebraska repealed their law in 2017,” Sen. Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-York) said.
The law is part of the Commonwealth’s education code that dates back to the 1800s. It also bans public school teachers from wearing any kind of religious item including headwear, jewelry, clothing and grooming practices.
“A teacher who violates this ban must be suspended from teaching for a term of one year or permanently disqualified after teaching for multiple offenses,” Phillips-Hill said.
Phillips-Hill is joined by Democrat Sen. Judith Schwank (D-Berks) as bill sponsors. She said it’s good to work across party lines.
“A drink of water. It’s — you know — rough at times, especially if you’re the type of person who wants to get things done,” Schwank said.
She said the law should be a slam dunk, considering teachers’ religious expression is protected under the First Amendment.
“As an educator, you should be allowed to practice that. The school should not be any different than the rest of society,” Schwank said.
Plus, Phillips-Hill said the law itself is immoral.
“The origins of this original law, which was created in 1895, can be traced directly back to the Klu Klux Klan,” Phillips-Hill said.
Back in 2021, these senators are going for the opposite effect.
“It is part of helping to educate our children as well, as to the diversity in our communities, the commonwealth and the entire country. That’s gotta be better for everybody was we learn to accept each other for who we are,” Schwank said.
The bill will now move to the full Senate for consideration.