Teaching in public school with hijab or religious garb: illegal in Pennsylvania

CAIR-PA is looking for case examples where public teachers were forbidden to wear religious clothing. Please email Moein Khawaja at info@philadelphia.cair.com if you or a teacher you know has experienced a problem concerning religious wear at school.

Pennsylvania is only one of two states remaining that prohibits teachers from wearing religiously mandated clothing while on the job. The law, which dates back to 1895, is known as the “garb statute” and states, “No teacher in any public school shall wear in said school or while engaged in the performance of his duty as such teacher any dress, mark, emblem or insignia indicating the fact that such teacher is a member or adherent of any religious order, sect or denomination.”

This is a fairly strict statute and our office has not received any complaints from teachers regarding this leading us to believe it is simply not being enforced. Nevertheless, it is an outdated law and does not reflect the multicultural, diverse society we enjoy today. On principle, it should not remain on the books and if challenged, may prove to be unconstitutional. Last month, CAIR applauded a decision by the state of Oregon to repeal its ban on religious wear for teachers, leaving only Nebraska and Pennsylvania as the last remaining states with such archaic bans. CAIR-PA hopes Pennsylvania joins the other 48 states that support the religious liberty of teachers.

See: CAIR Welcomes Repeal of Oregon Ban on Teachers’ Hijab

Moein Khawaja
Executive Director