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.
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.