A Pennsylvania school district has made changes to its school dress code after a Satanic group blasted the discriminatory practice of banning clothes that are "satanic in nature."
Joseph Rose, who belongs to the Satanic Delco group, pushed to amend the school dress code. Some parents whose kids attended the Rose Tree Media School District approached him with complaints about the banned clothing detailed in the school handbook.
Rose conducted a month-long campaign alongside the other parents to get the school district officials to change their stand against banned clothes that have sexually suggestive graphics or wordings or designs that promote the use of drugs and alcohol. The school district also frowned upon students wearing clothes with disrespectful language and Satanic images.
"The idea that a public school, which really isn't a place for religion to begin with, would allow all but one religion is just so obviously unfair and unconstitutional," Rose said.
No Complaints Received
Rose Tree Media School District superintendent Eleanor DiMarino-Linnen said in an announcement that they did not formally receive any complaints from students or parents about clothing items banned in the school dress code. However, the school official also acknowledged that they will rephrase the wording on the student handbook to remove any references to "satanic in nature."
Law professor Ann Juliano said that the decision was the correct move as DiMarino-Linnen recognized that religious beliefs, such as this case, might become an issue for the community. Juliano also commended the phrasing of the superintendent's response in saying that they would take out the words in question.
However, some Pennsylvania school district parents are divided on the matter. Though they recognize that this is a "free speech issue," they don't want the students exposed to Satanic or cultish ideologies. Others questioned if the school district officials bent over backward to appease just one group. One mom expressed concern that Nazi ideologies could find their way into the dress codes if this other case was allowed.
Not Satan Worshippers
Meanwhile, after a series of emails and calls to the school district, Rose welcomed the decision to recognize their freedom of expression. He is also working on asking the Garnet Valley School District to change its school dress code to remove any references to satanic or cults.
Rose, however, made it clear that they do not worship Satan despite their organization's name. The group said they do not promote such a belief in the personal Satan but are open to rational inquiries about supernaturalism and superstitions on their official site. They exercise "reasonable agnosticism" in their thinking and actions.
On its private Facebook page, the group said that they are an active and independent organization with over 300 members in Philadelphia. Rose also said that his campaign against the school dress codes is helping raise awareness for Satanist practice. The win against Rose Tree Media School District has had an empowering impact as the group reaches out to other schools.
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