More than a month ago, I blogged about a decision by a Michigan school district to allow small ceremonial daggers in their schools. Now, after furious parents complained and legal debate engulfed the district, the daggers are once again banned.
The kirkpan, which is a small ceremonial dagger typically between 3 and 5 inches long, is considered a rite of passage for young baptized Sikh males to carry as a symbol of fighting evil and greed.
The district first faced the issue back in December when a fourth-grader brought one to school. After the district held meetings with Sikh groups, it ruled they were acceptable granted they follow strict 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.
Despite being extremely small and not visible, the Herald Times Reporter reported that the schools banned the daggers once again because they “violated local, state and federal polices against bringing weapons or items that look like weapons to school.”
Sikh groups are planning to fight this, because they say it’s religiously important to them and the daggers are not sharp nor dangerous. However, it does resemble a weapon, which is against a number of policies.
Currently, kirkpans are also being debated in other places. Canada recently banned kirkpans from the assembly building even after Sikhs have brought them into the building and the Canadian Supreme Court ruled they were equally safe for schools.
Regardless, the attempt to prevent knives from being brought to schools or near them (as the case in Nevada) is an issue we will definitely be hearing more about in the future.