A school board that only a week ago chose to prohibit satanic clothing in schools voted Friday to do the opposite and permit it.
The Hays Unified School District 489 Board of Education in Kansas made the sharp U-turn in a special meeting without public input Friday, after a 45-minute closed-door session with its own attorney and another from the Kansas Association of School Boards, according to the Hays Post.
Though the words “satan” or “satanic” weren’t mentioned in the open portion of the meeting, the board voted 6-1 to approve student handbooks without a prohibition on satanic messages on clothing.
The same school board had voted 5-2 on Aug. 5 to prohibit satanic dress in all its schools, after previously banning it only in elementary and middle schools. Friday’s vote means satanic imagery on clothing is now permissible in all the district’s schools.
The varying votes came after a parent in the district, an avowed member of the Satanic Temple, accused the district of discrimination for “banning satanic students from wearing clothing that declares their faith.”
The board’s decision to heed that complaint not only comes after meeting with lawyers, but after several board members voiced concerns about being sued. “There has not been a district that has won a lawsuit” in such matters, one board member cautioned colleagues.
A parent told The Lion that two dozen citizens attended Friday’s meeting but were not allowed to speak. The parent said the board’s action was confusing to many, as no one on the board during Friday’s vote used the words “satan” or “satanic.” Thus, it took a little time for some in the audience to realize what the board had done.
The new Hays district dress code, according to the Post, now says, “Students must dress in a manner that is not obscene, offensive or substantially or materially disruptive to the learning environment. Apparel that is sexually suggestive or that promotes violence, illegal activities, drugs, alcohol or tobacco or that is determined to be gang related is prohibited.”
Any reference to satan, satanic or satanism was dropped.
Several board members who had supported the earlier ban on satanic clothing said they voted to allow it Friday due to legal liability concerns.
“I will vote yes for this,” The Post quoted board member Curt Vajnar, who had actually made the earlier motion to prohibit satanic imagery. “I don’t like it. The liability of teachers and administrators does concern me. If we are going to lose millions of dollars in a lawsuit, and we have no way to win, we’re caught.”
Concerned parent Adam Peters told The Lion before Friday’s vote that he opposes satanic imagery in schools but realizes the legal liability in banning it. Still, he said the public should make its position clear.
“We do need to come out and publicly oppose what they’re doing,” Peters said of the satanists. “For technical reasons they may come off with a win, and I won’t be in any way surprised by that. But we also need to make clear that we aren’t simply rolling over – we aren’t accepting what they say on face value, that we see them for what they are, and we’re going to be vigilant.”
It’s not certain what opponents of satanism will do now that its imagery will be allowed in schools. One parent did say that while there’s no appetite to fight the policy on satanic imagery in schools now, “there is renewed interest in rallying parents and others in the general public to push back against the local radical leftists with whatever comes next.”