A Kansas public school district is rethinking its ban on satanic clothing after a parent’s complaints and threats to sue.
The Hays Unified School District 489 Board of Education voted Aug. 5 to explicitly prohibit satanic clothing in all the district’s schools, after initially banning it only in elementary and middle schools. The vote was 5-2 to ban such imagery from all schools in the district, according to the Hays Post.
The special board meeting is scheduled for 7:30 a.m. Friday. The district told The Lion that no public comment will be allowed during the meeting.
“We’re hoping to get many people to show up in support of the ban anyway,” one parent said.
The district’s original elementary and middle school ban on satanic images on clothing, the Post says, stated, “Items of apparel that are considered distracting, unsafe, offensive, revealing, or suggestive (direct or indirect reference to alcohol, drugs, sex, profanity, gang affiliation, Satanism, tobacco, etc.) should not be worn.”
After a district mother of three, Mary Turner – an avowed member of the Satanic Temple – complained about the elementary and middle school ban at a board meeting July 18, administrators reworked it and took out the reference to satanic attire. But the board’s vote Aug. 5 put it back into the elementary and middle school student handbooks and added it to the high school handbook.
“Banning satanic students from wearing clothing that declares their faith while allowing students of all other faiths to wear similar clothing is an act of discrimination,” Turner told the board, according to the Post. “I am here to ask that the school board remove satanism from their dress code policy and they no longer blacklist my family’s faith and the faith of other families here in Hays as distracting, unsafe or offensive.”
The board discussed possible legal peril for banning satanic clothing in its district dress codes.
“The way it looks to me,” board member Tammy Wellbrock said, according to the Post, “there has not been a district that has won a lawsuit.” Board attorney Bill Jeter also warned of possible legal liability from the ban.
“Some fights are worth fighting,” board member Curt Vajnar said in response.
This is a fight that concerned parent Adam Peters thinks the satanists can win in the courts, but can’t be allowed to be seen winning in the court of public opinion.
Legally, the satanists rely on their set of beliefs being a “religion” protected by the First Amendment. Yet, Peters cites the Satanic Temple’s own creed that there isn’t even any Satan or supernatural, just religious superstition. The temple’s website urges followers to “exercise reasonable agnosticism in all things” – which is the opposite of religion.
“So, in other words, this is not a religion in any meaningful sense of the word,” Peters tells The Lion. “This is simply a leftist organization which appropriates the trappings of religion in order to engage in activism.”
But even if the courts were to disagree and hand the satanists a win in a costly legal battle – or if the school board capitulates Friday and removes the ban on satanic clothing – Peters says the board and the public must be united in fighting against it.
“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.”