April 2 2010
19th Chet (Samvat 542 Nanakshahi)
Press Release

Oregon Governor Signs Legislation Ending 87-year-old Ban on Religious Dress for Public School Teachers

Sikh Advocacy Organizations Join Together to End the Ban on Sikh Teachers in Oregon

After almost of year of campaigning, SALDEF, UNITED SIKHS, and the Sikh Coalition were pleased by the signing of HB 3686, effectively ending the ban on teachers having religiously required dress in school. The campaign began in the Summer of 2009, when SALDEF initiated a campaign to overturn 87-year-old legislation originally supported by the Ku Klux Klan; legislation which had resulted over the years in Sikh, Muslim, and Jewish teachers being banned from teaching in schools while wearing religiously mandated dress.

Governor Ted Kulongoski Speaks Before Bill Signing
Governor Ted Kulongoski Speaks Before Bill Signing
Earlier this morning at the signing, Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski signed the bill stating that he will make sure that the bill has "uniform application across the State of Oregon" and that it will be interpreted correctly to address the discriminatory concerns.
Speaker Hunt of the Oregon House Speaking about Overturning the Discriminatory Law
Speaker Hunt of the Oregon House Speaking about Overturning the Discriminatory Law

Legal Teamwork
UNITED SIKHS, SALDEF, and the Sikh Coalitions’ legal teams worked together and:

  • engaged in numerous strategic discussions with various representatives of the Oregon legislature,
  • engaged the Sikh community, and other faith leaders to in joint support of the historic effort, and
  • prepared and gave testimony before the Oregon legislature on the issue.
Professor Sukhsimranjit Singh, ICHRA Advisor, UNITED SIKHS; Professor Steve Green; Sathanuman Singh Khalsa, Northwest Regional Director, SALDEF; Bahadur Singh
Professor Sukhsimranjit Singh, ICHRA Advisor, UNITED SIKHS; Professor Steve Green; Sathanuman Singh Khalsa, Northwest Regional Director, SALDEF; Bahadur Singh
SALDEF’s Northwest Regional Director, SatHanuman Singh Khalsa, testified before the Oregon legislature stating, “As a Sikh American and a proud public servant, I support an immediate repeal of ORS 342.650.  I am a living testament to the American promise of equal opportunity, but this law is a throwback to the separate but equal doctrine.  As a Sikh, my turban is as integral to my identity as the color of my skin.  If I were a teacher, I could not, as required by this law, leave my turban at home to go to work.”
Governor's Guest Registration
Governor's Guest Registration

The Sikh Community’s Voice is Heard
In January of this year, UNITED SIKHS, SALDEF, and the Sikh Coalition asked the community to write to Oregon legislators to sign onto House Bill 3686. Earlier this week, we asked you to call the Governor’s office. The Sikh Community’s Voice is strong and was heard.

“Being active and involved in progressive change in America is a vital part of realizing the American dream. The foundation of Sikh philosophy is egalitarian and its great that so many Sikh Americans engaged in passing this legislation,” commented Jaspreet Singh, Staff Attorney for UNITED SIKHS.
For a previous press release on this advocacy effort, please visit: http://www.unitedsikhs.org/PressReleases/PRSRLS-06-01-2010-00.html

Issued by:
Rucha Kavathe
Media and Communications Coordinator

Contact Us

UNITED SIKHS encourages the Sikh community to wear their kakaars, fearlessly exercise their freedom of religion, and to contact us with any problems, concerns, or incidents of discrimination.


To transform underprivileged and minority communities and individuals into informed and vibrant members of society through civic, educational and personal development programs, by fostering active participation in social and economic activity.

UNITED SIKHS is also an avenue for networking between like-minded organisations to establish and nurture meaningful projects and dialogues - whether social, cultural or political- to promote harmony, understanding and reciprocity in our villages, towns and cities.

UNITED SIKHS is a coalition of organisations and individuals, who share a common vision based on the belief that there is no greater endeavour than to serve, empower and uplift fellow beings. The core of our philosophy is an unwavering commitment to civic service and social progress on behalf of the common good.

Accordingly, UNITED SIKHS has sought to fulfil its mission not only by informing, educating and uplifting fellow beings but also by participating in cross-cultural and political exchanges to ensure that the promises and benefits of democracy are realized by all.

We at UNITED SIKHS believe that the development of enlightened and progressive societies can be made possible by socially conscious groups of people who make a commitment to develop and direct human potential. Our work, efforts and achievements stand as a testament to our faith in this vision.