Reading, Writing & First Amendment Rights|
Posted: August 21st. 2000
Times Viewed: 5,367
Well, it's time for the kids to go back to school (I see that smile, Mom and Dad !) and so it is probably a good time to look into what 'back to school' might mean for our pagan children. Many of you may recall that in the last few years several school districts across the nation attempted to ban the wearing of pentacles. For instance, Hammond, Indiana high school officials had placed pentacles on its list of prohibited symbols in the school's dress code. After AREN contacted Pat Prorok, Clark High School's assistant principal, regarding the unconstitutionality of the ban, school officials changed the dress code policy to accommodate practitioners of minority religions. Perhaps the most familiar case was that of Wiccan Crystal Seifferly who was forced to ultimately file a lawsuit against the Lincoln Park school board concerning its school ban of not only the wearing of pentacles, but a ban on even the practicing of the belief systems of Witchcraft or Paganism. Crystal won her case with the aid of the ACLU and the various pagan organizations who filed letters of support on her behalf.
Already this season, we have heard of one school in Texas that bans the wearing of pentacles and classifies it as a gang symbol in their dress code regulations. As more pagan parents get a good look at their children's student handbooks, there may be more such incidents on the horizon. Let's take a look at the U.S. Department of Education's guidelines on religious expression in the public schools:
"Students may display religious messages on items of clothing to the same extent that they are permitted to display other comparable messages. Religious messages may not be singled out for suppression, but rather are subject to the same rules as generally apply to comparable messages." The entire text of the Equal Access Act is available in a printable version on the TWV White Pages. Other documents of similar interest include Education and the Pagan Child and pagan lawyer, Dana Eilers has written an informative analysis of the recent court decision, Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe, on pre-game prayers at school sporting events that has other First Amendment import for pagans.
It never hurts to know your legal rights!
In Your Service,
The Witches' Voice
Year 2000 - August 21st.
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