School board yanks teacher out of classroom after she wore hijab to work

An elementary school teacher in Quebec, who wore a hijab, was ordered out of class when her class was told it must be completely segregated. Despite the school’s promise to bring in a teacher of a different gender, the school’s board said it acted on Bill 21, the provincial school code, which allows schools to take punitive action against teachers who don’t adhere to the uniform rules and called the teacher’s “integration plan” discriminatory. And Quebec Premier François Legault said the decision was “unjustified and absurd.” Legault said he was particularly upset by the fact that school leaders did not consult other teachers before making the decision. Legault said many Quebecers felt insulted by the way the school board was handling the matter.

Critics of the teacher and the board said the teacher shouldn’t have been ordered out of the classroom. The Montreal Gazette reports:

The teacher has reportedly been off duty this week but is still being paid. The school board said it took action “out of the sense of responsibility.” But the local director told CBC Radio that unless the teacher decided to stop wearing the hijab, she would be expelled, even if it violated the neutrality of her profession. “I cannot accept any woman that covers her head to be a teacher,” she said. “It makes no sense.”

An average of ten teachers, including nine Muslim women, have been dismissed from their jobs this month in Quebec due to different reasons. In addition, several teachers have been told to wear vests to the classroom as a personal choice.

The school board has defended its decision to eject the teacher, saying it was sanctioned by Bill 21. But the board’s own officials did not attend a recent hearing by the school board’s board to defend the decision. The hearing, which was closed to the public, saw the teacher’s lawyer deliver a “poorly-prepared brief,” the CBC reported.

This post has been updated to include Legault’s comments about the teacher’s right to wear a hijab.

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