A few weeks ago at Auburn’s Gildo Rey Elementary, a Sikh family approached the school telling them their little boy would be carrying a Kirpan every day, causing some negative reactions.
One school volunteer named Shelby said that respecting religion goes too far if it compromises student safety.
“There’s no way I’d go back until the knife was gone,” she added.
A spokesman for Gurdwara Sikh Center of Seattle, Jaswinder Singh, attempted to explain the historical and religious significance of the Kirpan as an integral part of the Sikh faith and an instrument for social justice.
“For the people who are formally initiated to the Kirpan, it’s very near and dear,” said Singh.
District administrators are citing state and federal guidelines that allow certain exceptions to Washington’s “zero tolerance” for weapons policy.
They have pointed out that there are plenty of Sikhs, both students and staff, who have carried Kirpans to school for years without incident.
In this case, the Kirpan is to be kept under the child’s clothes at all times.
“That allows them to express their religion without jeopardizing anyone’s feeling of safety. If there are any problems, we will take it to the family, but we don’t expect any.”