To prevent religious discrimination, the state of Illinois plans to start mailing fliers to employees at offices that issue drivers licenses and photo IDs to remind them that people are not required to remove "articles of faith" for their photos. The state's efforts follow complaints from Muslim and Sikh agencies that some residents have been asked to remove religious head coverings. 

The Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund brought the issue to Illinois’ Secretary of State’s office about a year ago after Sikh residents complained that they had been asked to take off their dastaars, the turbans Sikhs wear around their heads, for photos.

"We had been getting complaints from around the states from Sikh Americans who were being asked to remove or modify their turbans to get their photo ID,” the executive director Jasjit Singh told Fusion Friday.

Muslims became the state's fastest growing and third-largest group in 2012, according to the Chicago Tribune. And while there is no readily available state data about the Sikh population, there are half a million Sikhs living in the United States.

A spokesperson for Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White emphasized to Fusion that it has always been illegal to ask people to remove their head covering, and that the fliers serve as a reminder for government employees of how to respect religious diversity.

“No change has actually taken place to our procedures," said Henry Haupt, Deputy Press Secretary for the Secretary of State’s office. "What we’re doing was always allowed the religious head coverings of this nature but what we want to ensure is that the public’s aware of them because we were told that some individuals were unaware that they could have their photo taken for the drivers license wearing them. We’re always mindful of the fact that we want to communicate well with the public.”

The fliers include examples of acceptable religious head coverings to help continue to educate Department of Motor Vehicles employees.

"While hats or head coverings are generally prohibited from being worn in photographs used on Illinois driver’s licenses and identification cards, customers may be photographed while wearing established religious head coverings," read the flier. "Photographs increase public safety."

Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund policy director Navdeep Singh said the hope is that the Illinois fliers will lead to other states working with their employees to clarify what religious residents' rights are.