A school district in Michigan recently announced that it is allowing Sikh students to carry ceremonial daggers to school as a form of religious expression, according to an article in the Detroit Free Press.
Baptized males in the Sikh religion are required to wear the small daggers, known as kirpans, as a religious symbol denoting their commitment to fight evil.
The controversy surrounding the ceremonial dagger first appeared in December when a fourth-grader at a Canton Township elementary school carried a dull 3-to 5-inch dagger to school. After that incident, kirpans were banned at the district, but national Sikh groups wrote letters expressing disapproval.
The school’s decision has generated widespread interest, because it was made with the rational that the knives fall under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution as protected religious expression.
However, some are arguing that allowing the kirpans in schools is a double standard, since other students aren’t able to carry knives, and a student who accidentally brought a Swiss army knife to a Virgina high school was recently expelled.
But, the school’s decision might also be a victory for knife enthusiasts, as the district has also changed the definition of what makes a knife a dangerous weapon.
Despite making the changes, the daggers can only be taken to school if they meet specific guidelines: the blade must be dull, it must be sewn into its sheath so it can’t be taken out, it must be no bigger than 2 1/4 inches and it must not be visible.