English Montreal School Board to adhere to Quebec’s secularism law

Kindergarten teacher Haniyfa Scott gives a lesson during class in Montreal, Thursday, April 4, 2019. Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

The English Montreal School Board will abide by Bill 21‘s secularism rules during the upcoming school year, which begins in September.

The board was set to discuss its approach to handling the bill ahead of the upcoming school year at a meeting on Wednesday night, however the topic was struck from the meeting’s agenda at the last minute and sent back to committee.

This therefore means the school board will adhere to the province’s secularism rules until further notice, EMSB chair Angela Mancini said on Wednesday.

READ MORE: Quebec won’t allow parents to pull their kids from class if teacher wears a religious symbol

The news comes despite the EMSB’s repeated public denunciation of the legislation, which the board argues does not abide by its value of inclusivity.

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In March, the EMSB passed a resolution to resist Bill 21, which includes provisions that would bar teachers hired after March 28, 2019, from wearing religious symbols on the job.

At the meeting on Wednesday, Mancini expressed her regret, saying the EMSB should have been ready to address the topic.

READ MORE: CSDM will apply Quebec’s religious symbols ban, plans to table report next week

“We are de facto agreeing to implement the law,” Mancini said.

The school board chair added that the EMSB will be implementing the new law as of Sept. 3.

The Commission scolaire de Montréal, Quebec’s largest school board, also announced on Aug. 22 that it would also be abiding by the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) government’s contentious legislation.

Quebec’s religious neutrality law bars public servants in positions of authority — such as teachers, judges and police officers — from wearing religious symbols at work. It includes a grandfather clause.

According to the EMSB, teachers who don’t respect the secularism rules come Sept. 3 could possibly face sanctions.

— With files from Global News’ Kalina Laframboise 

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