Hypocrisy of Quebec secularism law hurts families and schools

Children will grow up in environment where discrimination against Muslims and Sikhs is okay, writes parent
Josée Cyr-Charlebois
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On Sunday the Quebec government passed Bill 21, its so-called secularism bill. Meanwhile, the public school in St-André-Avellin, Quebec, where I send my child — and where it is now impossible for a new teacher to wear the hijab to work — bears a massive cross on each of its two buildings.

The dissonance hurts my head; the carelessness, my heart.

The law imposed by the Coalition Avenir Québec government means that many public service employees — including teachers, school principals and vice-principals, judges, and police — will not be allowed to wear religious symbols such as a hijab, turban, kippah, or cross while working.

This is discrimination, pure and simple.

Josée Cyr-Charlebois

Moreover, as an agnostic person, the hypocrisy of this law frightens me. The public school in my town, the one with the large crosses, holds Christmas celebrations, which I accept with some reluctance. But then Easter comes around, and my six-year-old child comes home and explains the crucifixion of Jesus Christ to me — while not having any information to share about other religions.

Where is the secularism?

Because of this dehumanizing law, my children will grow up in a school environment where it’s okay to openly discriminate against Muslims and Sikhs. While they may never have had a teacher who wore a hijab, turban, or kippah in our rural Quebec town, which is quite homogenous, the law normalizes exclusion and racism.

As a parent trying to raise kids who are kind and inclusive, the law — which stokes fear for political gain — works against me, my family, and our schools.

Josée Cyr-Charlebois
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