Quebec Bill 21 Won't Apply To Parents Who Volunteer In Schools & Wear Religious Symbols

Parents who supervise classes due to COVID-related staff shortages can wear hijabs, kippahs, crosses and turbans.

Associate Editor
Quebec Bill 21 Won't Apply To Parents Who Volunteer In Schools & Wear Religious Symbols

As a contingency plan to deal with a high number of staff shortages expected at schools in the coming weeks, Quebec's Ministry of Education has said parent volunteers might be asked to supervise classes if too many teachers get sick with COVID-19 and need to isolate. But, unlike teachers who are subject to Bill 21, volunteer parents can wear religious symbols in the classroom.

Quebec's controversial Bill 21, also known as Quebec's secularism law, prohibits public service workers — from police officers to teachers — from wearing hijabs, kippahs, crosses, turbans and other forms of religious symbols while at work. In fact, an elementary school teacher in Chelsea was removed from her position last month for wearing a hijab.

This has sparked questions as to whether parent volunteers need to abide by the same rules. However, in an email to MTL Blog, the Ministry of Education confirmed that they do not.

"Schedule 2, paragraph 10, of the Act respecting the laicity of the State, which specifies who is affected by the prohibition in section 6 on wearing religious symbols in the performance of their duties, refers only to teachers and principals in public elementary and secondary schools," said Bryan St-Louis, media relations manager for the Ministry of Education.

"Parents will not act as teachers. Therefore, they will not be covered by section 6 of the Act."

At a press conference on Thursday, Education Minister Jean-François Roberge said parents who are asked to keep an eye on classes as a "last resort" will not be asked to perform the same duties as teachers.

"It's not like we're asking parents to become teachers," he said. "A parent might come and supervise a class."

Quebec schools are set to reopen on Monday, January 17.

This article’s cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.

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