This will be my first Discussion as a new member of your community and it is a very personal subject for me. About two monthes ago I had to step up to the plate so to speak on defending my beliefs for the sake of my daughter. First off I guess I should say a little about her. Her name is Rebekka and she is 14 years old. She doesn't play follow the leader and generally has her own style. She is the middle child of 3 teenage girls and the only one to fully embrace the path of Wicca. (I don't push my religion on my childern but allow them the freedom to choose for themselves) Her style is somewhere between goth and punk in her own interpretation, which most of the time can be quit entertaining. She is an openly loving and giving person who general doesn't care who likes her and who doesn't. She is very much my mini me. She recently expressed her views to someone that she thought was a friend, who in turn went to her mother, who in turn went to the school counciler. I was rushed in for an emergency meeting to discuss "help" for my child. The main subject of concern, that she stated that she believed in witch craft. Not that she is a witch mind you but, that she believes in it. The school wanted a psycholocigal evalution done because they thought that she was incapable of distinguishing fact from fiction. Now understand that when I walked into the school I did not know what their concern was, only that there was a problem. I proudly wear a pentacle and I had made no attempt at hiding it (honestly I never take it off so I didn't give it any thought). There was no point in denying that I believed as well (not that I would have). This little girl that started the trouble told her mother that she was afraid that if she made my daughter mad then she'd be cursed by my child...hmmm don't you have to believe it exists to believe you can be cursed? But she wasn't being suggested for an evaluation. I told them how misinformed that information was because no witch would put anything out there that they didn't want back times three and that our motto clearly states harm ye none. To this the councelor simply snorted and looked down his nose. To shorten a very long story it took me reminding the school that there is a such thing as freedom of religion in this country and that religion was banished from schools so they didn't have the authority to order an evaluation based on religious beliefs. My point to this bulletin? Looking for opinions, similar experiences, or maybe better ways to handle it next time it becomes an issue.
I think you handled it very well I would also suggest that you join the ACLU, there is very little as terrifying to most school boards as the thought of a civil liberties lawsuit, this should be a practice of all pagans, also there is the Lady Liberty League, you can Google them up. The besat of luck to yopu and yours in the future
Thank you all for your wonderful suggestions and outpouring of support. Yes my daughter is a wonderful person to be around and someone that will stand up for what she believes in. Honestly the first thing that I did for her when she told me that she was interested in Wicca was go out and buy her the book Teen Witch by Silver Ravenwolf. I told her to read it first and then when she was ready we would talk about it. I felt that she needed the facts before she could trully know if it was what she wanted. She finished the book in 2 days and was even more convinced that it was right for her, so I believed that she was making an educated choice and I will stand by her and help her in any way possible. As I said before I don't believe in our legal system plus I simply can't afford a lawyer. I did concider home schooling. These are all wonderful suggestions and thank you for sharing your own experiences. There was a small part of me that wondered if all schools were this ignorant or if it was just the bible belt community that we live in. It seems to me that all schools could benefit by just knowing the facts. I think I might just have to look into remedying that situation. I will say that there is one friend and parent that stood by my child and I have to give some kudos to them as they are devote christians yet stood by my daughter. The only stipulation came from the parent who made it clear that should my daughter attempt to push her beliefs on her daughter then they would not be spending any time together anymore outside of school. Other then that she said that as long as my daughter believed in something that was good enough for her. The world needs more open minded people like that. As far as the ultimate outcome, I'm afraid it didn't turn out so great. The school dropped it but the kids this little girl told didn't. Constant ridicule got the best of her and she begged me to let her finish the school year out at her father's house (6 hours away). While it tore my heart to pieces and I felt like I had let her down, I did what I felt was best for her and agreed. The good news is that he also follows the path and my-step son has already made his place there and no one would dream of harrasing his little sister. She is not hiding who she is, but she's chosing better friends. She is happy now and that's the most important thing.
Well, don't you think that it might be worth a try? I mean if we didn't take a stand at some point and stand proud we'd still be in hiding, right. No I don't think they'd educate students but maybe they would suggests that councilors and teacher should read it so that they could better understand the kids they're suppose to care about. It may do nothing but, I'm game for giving it a try.
It amazes me how the School systems target these types of things that are utterly harmless but do nothing about the bullying that goes on every day among the students. Kids are picked on because they of their sexual preferences, because they dress differently and the schools do NOTHING about it. But, have someone mention Witchcraft or Satanism and they bring in their calvary of Councilors and Administration. You did the right thing..
Having taught in the public school systems before retiring for 34 years and being openly Pagan I was fortunate that people took me for me and it was PUBLIC school systems. One piece of advice - find a Pagan friendly lawyer. Try to educate the school[s] where your children attend. Be involved so they know you as a person and not as a "threat" etc. - clubs, PTA etc. school committees.
Patti, you did a excellent job in handling the situation. I agree with the others EDUCATE the educators.
I'm curious though...has anyone ever thought to have a publically open ritual so those who are not Pagan can see just exactly what goes on? Of course to do that it would be advisable to have law enforcement aware so they can be close at hand, just in case.
You'd think with the Christians history of being persecuted, that they would be more tolerant......sorry, must have be on a fantasy trip momentarily..LOL