October 26, 2014 | By Sikh Siyasat Bureau
Auburn, Washington: An Auburn School District official said Thursday (Oct. 23) that students and staff of the Sikh faith are permitted to wear ceremonial knives for religious reasons.
Assistant Superintendent Ryan Foster reiterated the policy after KING-TV reported about one boy being allowed to wear the small Kirpan at Gildo Ray Elementary.
Foster told media that a long-standing district policy allows the Kirpan to be worn under the clothing of observant Sikhs.
“It can’t create a disruption of the learning environment,” Foster said.
The kirpan, is considered an instrument of social justice in the Sikh religion, and is one of five articles of faith worn by observant Sikhs. The blades are typically dull and range from 3 to 9 inches long, according to the New York-based Sikh Coalition.
Rajdeep Singh, policy director of Sikh Coalition, said the issue of kirpans in schools doesn’t often come up, because not all Sikhs wear them and others wear them under their clothes.
He noted that the items are probably less dangerous than the scissors that elementary school students in Auburn are required to bring to class.
“It would be helpful to remind parents that this is not a weapon,” he said.
Many agencies across the nation have created policies that accommodate the Kirpans, the coalition said. The Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Protective Service allows kirpan-carrying Sikhs into federal buildings, it said.
“This is not something that’s new to us or most districts in the area,” Foster said.
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