Samhain and The Dress Code
Article ID: 2047
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 7,137
Times Read: 32,747
Posted: October 15th. 1997
Times Viewed: 32,747
Dear School Administrator,
This letter is in response to a request (optional: insert name here). We have been asked to comment on a request that a student enrolled in your school be permitted to wear black clothing for the religious observance of Samhain on October 31st.
Samhain is one of the most significant holidays in the Wiccan or Witch calendar. The traditional wearing of black ( sometimes combined with white and orange ) is a long established custom in our religion. Black signifies our remembrance of loved ones who have passed over into the Otherworld. It can be compared with the mourning clothes of bereaved persons or the wearing of arm bands to commemorate a tragedy. There is no negative symbolism connected with the wearing of black clothing. It is simply a expression of respect in the tradition of (insert name of your tradition, path, etc.).
We understand that many schools have adopted dress codes to reduce problems related to popular styles and gang affiliations. However, since this is a nation of diverse beliefs, we feel that some leeway should be also allowed for those who express strong religious conviction. To be forced to choose between one's deeply held beliefs or the disciplinary action connected with non-compliance of the school dress code is a difficult position in which to place a child.
A case by case review, while certainly time consuming for the administrative staff, is still the best process in a democratic society. The Equal Access Act, in fact, requires that religious beliefs be accommodated in the school system. (A copy of the EAA is enclosed.)
"The First Amendment imposes two basic and equally important obligations on public school officials in their dealings with religion. First, schools may not forbid students acting on their own from expressing their personal religious views or beliefs solely because they are of a religious nature. Schools may not discriminate against private religious expression by students, but must instead give students the same right to engage in religious activity and discussion as they have to engage in other comparable activity."
I hope that you will seriously reconsider your position on the matter of granting an exception (optional insert: for name of student) on this most important holiday.
encl: The Equal Access Act
Know Your Legal Rights
F.A.Q's of Witchcraft
Superintendent of Schools
U.S. Dept. of Education
State Attorney General
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