The 494-to-36 vote, with 31 abstentions, came hours after the minister of national education, Luc Ferry, said in a radio interview that the law would stretch much further than religious symbols and require all students to attend physical education classes and accept what is taught on the Holocaust and human reproduction.
Three weeks ago, Mr. Ferry, a philosopher and best-selling author, said bandannas and excessive hairiness would be banned from public schools if they were considered religious signs.
The draft law bans “ostensibly” religious signs, which have been defined by President Jacques Chirac and a government advisory commission as Islamic head scarves, Christian crosses that are too large in size and Jewish skullcaps. Sikh turbans are also likely to be included.
But the legislation also includes a lengthy preamble that demands that public schools guarantee total equality, including “coeducation of all teachings, particularly in sports and physical education.” Schools, it said, are “the best tool for planting the roots of the republican idea.”0