Michigan School Changes anti-gang Policy for Student Witch
by Sly Spurling
In a victory for freedom of expression and religion, a Wiccan student in Detroit has been allowed to outwardly display symbols of her religion at her school once again.
As a result of the settlement with senior Crystal Seifferly, Lincoln Park High School has changed its policy prohibiting the wearing of pentagrams, doing away with the provision of its policy that stated that pagans and witches are "inappropriate" in a school setting. This problem had been caused by its short-sighted "gang" policy, which outlawed the wearing of "gang" symbols in school and somehow confused Wiccan religious iconage for colors.
The ACLU successfully argued that the district's policy violated Seifferly's religious rights in this matter. As a result of their actions, Lincoln Park High School agreed to make an exception to its rules. They also agreed to pay attorney's fees to the ACLU.
"I'm happy," Seifferly said, "I'm pleased and I'm glad it's over. The longer it went on and the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it wasn't just about me and just about Wicca. It was about a lot of other people and religions."
Way to go to the ACLU and Ms. Seifferly on this one. It's rather disturbing that a school could classify a well-grounded, legitimate religion such as Wicca to be "inappropriate" for their school. What would the outcry have been like if they'd banned stars of David and claimed that Judaism was bad news? A cross is a star is a half moon is a pentagram, folks.
This is something for all students, teachers, parents and administrators to look at and wonder about. How could a school system dare to say that a religion is 'inappropriate' in the name of reducing gang violence? Right idea, dead wrong solution. If anything, schools should be encouraging students to promote peaceful philosophies, not taking away their right to speak about them. The schools can't teach religion, but the students who go to them should have the right to freely express their thoughts on feelings about their own. That's not a violaton of the separation of church and state: that's the way it's supposed to work. But no, this school instead takes a ludicrous policy of "You don't worship Jesus, you must be in a gang!"
Keep an eye out, folks. If any of your school boards start trying to ram fascist bullshit like this through, be very, very vocal in its opposition. Non-Christians are also American citizens, and have the same rights to speak their minds, or wear their faith on their sleeves, as anyone else. To say otherwise is to deny freedom of speech and freedom of religion, which are two principles this country is based on.
Rock Out Censorship obtained a copy of the original letter sent to students informing them of the new restrictory policies prior to this situation blowing up in the school's face. It reads as follows:
"GANG/CULT ANNOUNCEMENT - The Administration of Lincoln Park High School has noticed an increase in gang and or cult activity. The Board of Education, through the Student Code of Conduct, has clearly stated that it "desires to keep district schools and students free from threats or wrongful influence of any groups or gangs which advocate drug use, violence, or disruptive behavior."
Violators will be suspended indefinitely with possible expulsion. The Administration of Lincoln Park High School will enforce this rule.
A partial listing of groups that are not appropriate to the school setting include:
KKK, Street Gangs, Skin Heads, White Supremacists, Wiggins (Wiccans ?), Straight Edge, Pagans, Gothic, Satanist, Vampires, Cult/Occult, Witches.
It is understood that this list is not all inclusive, and that any like groups that do not appear on this list are also inappropriate and unacceptable in the school setting, and will result in disciplinary action. A partial listing of inappropriate activities includes, but is not limited to: Graffiti, Pentagram symbol, Gang Colors/Styles, Anarchy symbol, Cult Dress/Styles, Vampire/Death style make-up, Satanic Jewelry Dog Collars
There are other related activities that are not listed which are also inappropriate to the school setting. If you have questions concerning whether an artifact or activity is appropriate to the school setting, please ask your administrator or Officer Pollard. [Editor's Note: How lovely--now citizens must ask the government for permission to exercise their First Amendment rights and the government can make up the rules as they go along.]
Enforcement will begin on Thursday, October 29, with confiscation of inappropriate artifacts and a warning. Friday, October 30, enforcement will change to confiscation of artifacts and indefinite suspension.
The faculty and administration appreciate your excellent behavior this year. Our intention is to insure the health, safety and welfare of all students by keeping gangs and cults out of your high school. Your cooperation in helping us to achieve that goal is appreciated."
We at ROC urge all our readers to please take the time to contact the people behind this completely unacceptable trampling of our First Amendment rights and let them know what you think of such unconstitutional policies.
Lincoln Park High School
Lincoln Park, MI 48146
Dr. Tom Kolka, Principal, 389-0234
Dr. Kathleen. A. Evans, Assistant Principal, 389-0261
Mr. Alan Kevwitch, Assistant Principal, 389-0262
Miss Diane Kennedy, Assistant Principal and Vocational Director, 389-0263
Lincoln Park School District
1545 Southfield Road
Lincoln Park, MI 48146
Board of Education Members
President- Don Harris
Vice-President- Charles Kaminski
Secretary- Charles Higgins
Treasurer- John Laidler
Trustees- Michael Bartnikowski, James Hopkins, and Robert O'Brien
Randall H. Kite- Superintendent
Ted Cafferty- Assistant Superintendent/Personnel
James L. Dyson- Assistant Superintendent/Instruction