A school board removed apparel representing satanism from its restrictions for school dress code following a mothers complaint.
The supreme court’s recent ruling in favor of the right to express one’s religion at school has led to many conversations about the separation of church and state. While schools themselves cannot promote religion on campuses, individual staff and students are protected under the first amendment to express their religion in a school setting. To this, even minority religious sects are speaking out against long-standing policies that have been banning them from schools, including The Satanic Temple, which recently talked a school board into backtracking away from its school dress code policy that barred students from wearing satanic apparel.
Mary Turner, a mother of three kids that attend schools within the Hays Unified School District brought forth a message to board members at a recent meeting about a contradictory mandate within the district school dress code policies. The mandate restricted your typical offensive materials but had one specific inclusion referring to anything satanic. Given that satanism is a registered public religion, the mother pointed out that this interfered with constitutional amendment rights.
Turner spoke at the school board meeting with reference to one of her children’s middle school dress codes. Within the handbook, a section of the dress code restrictions addresses items that are considered to be distractive, unsafe, offensive, revealing, or suggestive. For reference, it mentions drugs, sex, profanity, gang affiliation, and – you guessed it – satanism.
Although many Americans refer to satanism synonymously with evil, it is, in fact, part of a minority religious practice. The Satanic Temple is less than a decade old in practice, and its ideologies are not built off of the fictitious devil himself, but off of the literary Satan. Active in political efforts, members have long pushed for separation of church and state, while pointing out redundancy in systemic policies that cater towards Christianity while attempting to limit other minority religion’s rights like what is apparent with this school dress code.
According to reports from Only Sky, the mother made note to board members that she and her children are members of the Satanic Temple. To this, she asserted that there should be no reason why her children are prohibited from wearing apparel that’s representative of the religion they practice because of the biased school dress code. “I raise my children according to the seven [tenets] of satanism, and while children of other faiths can wear clothing that declares their family’s religion, my family’s faith is specifically called out and banned in the school handbook dress code,” Turner said.
Furthermore, the mother pointed to the district’s non-discriminatory policy, with overtly demands that schools can not show prejudice towards students because of their faith. While appearing to prove a point, overall, the mother just wanted to see satanism removed from the restrictions on the district’s school dress code policy. In the end, board members voted with Turner, and announced that starting this fall, students will be able to wear gear that depicts their religion, regardless of whether that’s Christianity or Satanism. While upsetting some, it is impossible to call for the government and the supreme court to justify freedom of religious expression without making sure that every single religion is protected. While it may have been a controversial decision, the board simply followed constitutional law.