Quick response by local school over Pagan necklace

A St. Paul Public School substitute teacher was disciplined after asking a Pagan elementary student to tuck her pentacle necklace into her shirt, a request not made to other students wearing religious necklaces.

Grace wearing her necklace

Tasha-Rose Mirick’s daughter, Grace, is a 4th grader at Galtier Magnet School in St. Paul.   Ms. Mirick says Grace proudly wears a pentacle necklace every day as a sign of her inner held beliefs, much like a Christian wears a cross or crucifix.  Grace says the necklace has a special meaning to her in addition to it being an outward sign of her faith, “I told my friends a story about a Goddess and my mom heard me thought I was ready for the necklace.  I was old enough to wear a sign of my faith.  I was so excited that I was jumping around.  It means a lot to me.”

She had worn the necklace to school everyday since the start of the school year.  It wasn’t until she had a substitute teacher that Grace  experienced any problems,  “After lunch we went back to our room and our substitute teacher said I needed to put my necklace in my shirt.” Grace says she complied, but asked the teacher why she needed to do this.  She says he told her, “because things like that should be kept to yourself.”  Other children in the class had necklaces on, some of them with religious symbols, yet no request was made of them that they hide their necklace.  Grace continued to keep her necklace hidden but was upset at being singled out.  When she got home, she talked to her mother.

Mirick says she contacted Deborah McCain, Principal of Galtier, and the Minnesota Dept of Human Rights.  Mirick said that Principal McCain took fast action, “She let me know that the substitute teacher will not be teaching at Galtier any longer and the likelihood exists that he will no longer be teaching in the St. Paul Public Schools.”   McCain also gave Grace’s mom the phone number for the districts ombudsman to contact for followup.  “This was same day action,” Mirick said, “I wasn’t expecting that.”

Grace and her mother feel good about the prompt action taken by the school to guarantee equal treatment of all students.  Mirick feels this could have been a misunderstanding or something that could have been corrected with education.  Likewise, Grace said, “I feel bad for him that he has a bad record, but I feel my principal did the right thing and showed that she really cares about us.”

Editor’s note:  Tasha-Rose Mirick is a contributor at PNC-Minnesota

159 thoughts on “Quick response by local school over Pagan necklace

  1. Woodstone says:

    As a Minnesota Vikings fan I Could not have faulted him had he only asked her to put a jacket on to hide the Packers shirt she was wearing… lol! But thanks for the story and Ms. Mirick speaking up. As Pagan’s we have the same rights as anyone else…if we speak up!

        • Kaade says:

          The pentacle is much older than Wicca as it is now practiced and has been used by different groups with different meanings, including as a symbol of Venus- the celestial body associated with the divine feminine (based on the pattern formed by the distribution of the conjunctions of the sun with Venus) and Mars (an example is a pentacle drawn by W.B. Yeats while in the Golden Dawn.) The symbol has its own meaning among the Freemasons and ceremonial magicians as well, and can be traced back at least to the Pythagoreans, who recognized it in terms of mathematical perfection. So maybe you shouldn’t be so quick to judge what it symbolizes to another person.

          • Kaade says:

            Oops, the Mars star I was thinking of was actually a seven pointed star. Sorry, bad example. But the different stars had particular celestial meanings (and specific colors) used for meditation by the Golden Dawn and other contemporaneous groups.

        • Jessica Sharp says:

          Actually, it means many things. Peace, tranquility, the FIVE elements (Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Spirit) in perfect harmony, it can also sit in the north quadrant of your altar to represent Earth, and in some cultures it is the symbol of Venus. So you’re all correct!!! Yay! So, Sean Alexander Guimond stop being so grumpy and rude. And don’t speak of right and wrong facts when you don’t know how to use proper grammar. It should have read ” don’t speak of what you DON”T know” , and it is HEAVEN.

          • ken says:

            for one thing Jessica pagens dont mock other pagens or correct people on their grammer.Thats being judgemental that we are not.We as pagens speak of tolerence have some.No judgement goes unpunished.Send out positive energy out if you want to get positive energy back.If someone is wrong you don’t pull them out beat them down dont do anything but state the correction and leave it at that..I have been a pagen for 30 years , I don’t correct pagens by calling them out in front of others.I state the correction and plead my case with information back it up and that’s it.You tar and feather the guy for making a mistake.Which was not your place to do that.Tolerence for others Jessica.Grammer bad spelling like I have at my age does not give you the right to do what you did.Rember i am a elder and speaking to you in a respectful manner is what pagens pride themselfs on even when we are being put down for our beliefs we remain respectful at all times.

            • Tom says:

              Ken, I will respectfully disagree with you. You say “Pagans” but you do not speak for all of us. As for being an “elder” based on how long you have been at it, you fall short of how long I have been a working Pagan. I am also in a leadership position as such dealing with members of the US Military covering many different Pagan paths. You can follow your path but not all paths will agree with your restrictions and not all follow the ideology of you get what you send with the interpretation you use. “No judgement goes unpunished.” That indicates a particular direction that has the tendency to judge as wrong when someone violates YOUR ideology. Actually some paths believe being judgmental is a part of accepting responsibility. You may not agree with Jessica’s methods but her response was consistent with your idea of getting what you give, it was what Sean got back based on the comment he gave. As such some could find it to be appropriate and not something that she need be concerned about as for getting the same in return. Then again she did get a reply from you and now you from me. Respect is earned and age or how long one has been a Pagan does not automatically place someone in a position that demands respect. I will agree it should be assumed unless the person demonstrates they do not deserve it but that goes equally for the young or new Pagan just as it does for the non-Pagan. In my position I am harsh and judgmental at times, it is a necessity but I am also respected. I know this because I maintain contact with fellow Pagans that I have know over the past 20 years and some are scattered around the globe both still on active duty with the US Military as well as some who have retired. If I were not respected such contact would not be maintained, particularly considering the constant change of persons in ones life when dealing with US Military personnel. We have a diversity among Pagans that does not always run parallel with each other. That you make a point of referring to yourself as an “elder” again says much about your perspective just as what/how Jessica wrote tells me about her viewpoint. Your approach is comparable to using sign language to speak to a blind person from across the room. Jessica may not fit within your ideology but she is not necessarily wrong just as you are not within your own perception.

        • eric kiekhaefer says:

          it stands for WHATEVER the wear wants it to stand for. It is her belief and others should not say what that it. I know that your intentions were out of instruction but perhaps you overstepped your authority.

          • hermieladya says:

            Hey – as far as that teacher had any idea… that star could have been representative of a male relative who happened to be a Texas Ranger (they are awfully close in appearance!) Personally I just try to teach my kids that if someone is wearing something and they don’t know if it “means” something then ask politely. While learning about something different, they just might be able to share something they have in common!

      • Diavanii Regina says:

        The human body stretched out to form, the pent remains as a symbol adorned, in knowing the self’s many elements within, she comes upon all of them after stepping within, the sacred of circles with candles about, her entrance brings SHE to surface about, in vibration of body and charging of self, she drifts in visions that lead her to more. Touch your hand upon a tree, pretty soon friended you’ll be.

        In the keeping of the root.

    • Tasha-Rose says:

      It definitely was NOT my expectation when I contacted the school. That’s why I took the measures outside of the school as well. I not only contacted MN Human Rights, but also the MN Dept. of Education and the MN ACLU. I wanted to make sure something about this was addressed. I am glad, so glad, to know that my children have a leader at school who truly cares for their well being.

      • charliesaysgo says:

        You should be even more ecstatic that your children ARE the leaders! 😀 It’s great to hear of such a young person being able to stand up for their rights and, by extension, the rights of many others. Abundant love to you and your family!

      • Christopher Blackwell says:

        Nifty that in this case it was taken care of so fast. I do wonder if this could have been used as a learning experience for the substitute teacher or if he was beyond teaching.

        I also wonder if there will be any other repercussions from other Christians, who might have agreed with this requirement and if some allege Christian attorney will start a lawsuit claiming that the teacher lost his job due to his Christian beliefs. Hopefully it will just be allowed to die but we do live in the world of alleged Christian victims.

        Meanwhile congrats for having a daughter who speaks up, for you for taking action, for the principal for taking action. Hopefully this will be a sign for the future in more and more schools.

  2. dragonmommie says:

    I understand that this teacher should not have done what he did, but couldn’t he be disciplined as opposed to being black listed? Getting any job is tough enough in this economy. His being a substitute teacher tells me that he might not be and experienced teacher. Isn’t it better have him learn from his mistake and try and keep him?

    • Cindilu says:

      maybe if everybody respected everybody and their right to have their own lifestyles~own religous beliefs~etc………th World would be a better place to live~)O(~

    • Rick Patrick says:

      Black list is a strong message and this IS GOOD!!! the christian right in our country feel they have the only religion that is to be allowed, taught and publicly displayed, a rough lesson yes, but just.

      • Gonzman says:

        Probably a Christian Principal who did this.

        Or is that just “crazy talk?”

        Never mind … We now return you to your regularly scheduled Christian Bashing….

        • BrightonRose says:

          It wasn’t the principal. It was a substitute teacher. The principal is actually the one who took positive action on the day the incident happened.

    • scottyxlr8 says:

      I agree, dragonmommie! Though I would prefer some kind of a prompt response, this seems to go a little far into the ‘knee-jerk’ reactionary category. Even the article states “this could have been a misunderstanding or something that could have been corrected with education.” Certainly, black-listing a teacher is akin to eliminating an ant hill with a hand-grenade! It’s kind of like Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” in reverse…

    • Katrina B. says:

      I agree. Blacklisting is ridiculous. As a pagan, I think that this kind of reaction does not create harmony. If the man had a history of this kind of thing, then that’s another matter. For one instance of being stupid? No, I don’t think its fair to fire someone over something like this.

      • silverguardian says:

        I do feel it’s a strong message, and as a great-grandmother, I feel that like racism, we tend to take reactions to religious actions too far.

        The child should have been given an apology that was as public as the reprimand. The teacher should have been reprimanded publicly. And then he should have been allowed to teach provided that he knew it would not be tolerated.

        Then someone should have taken the time to explain to the pagan child that we sometimes have to be understanding of Christians. Their religion is a fear-instilled religion, and this poor man probably felt the Christian devil’s eyes upon him in his religious-induced fear.

        I’m sorry she felt badly, but the point shouldn’t have been centered on how she felt. The point is that she now knows that there are people who react badly. It’s life. She can’t be protected from it. It’s best that she be shown how to react back. Instead of taking this as a reprimand against her own beliefs, if I had been her grandmother I would have told her that it should have reaffirmed the beauty of being pagan. Think how sad it is to walk around with the fear that seeing a pagan necklace might call down Satan’s wrath on you!

        How did this help her, in her religious experience. I think … not much. But maybe someone will have taken the time to point out that pagans are strong enough to feel sorry for people whose religion is so fear filled.

        • Emma Hart says:

          Sorry but how wrong do you wanna be? Aren’t Pagans supposed to teach harmony?

          Where’s the harmony in the implication that Christians live under fear?! I am a Christian and I certainly don’t live under fear. The God I serve is a loving God, not a dictator.

          Show a little respect please and educate your mind before you make statements like that in the future.

          I also read that you feel the young lady should ‘react back’ to a situation. Again, not quite what my Pagan friends believe. They would say, as indeed, Christians also do, that her response was the right one. She has enough humility to understand compassion, a concept of both Christianity AND Paganism.

          Makes me wonder where you get your rather strange ideas from. They sound more like occult than Paganism to be frank.

          • Terra Gazelle says:

            Occult means Hidden. Everything is Occult until it is known.

            As to what sounds Pagan to you? Can you tell me that all Christians are the same? They all react to things the same?

            I have a young girl in my group, her parents and two younger brothers are part of it. She said something to someone and the bullying started. It got bad..so bad she went to the Counselor…the counselor said that she would take care of it. Nothing happened. The child who was on the honor roll started hating school. The parents were at their wits end trying to get this school to do something. The mom contacted the school board..they knew nothing about it..so they called me, and I gave them a Pagan lawyers name.

            By this time the girl is coming home everyday crying..she felt powerless and wanted to be homeschooled.

            The lawyer is handling it…and things are better. This lawyer took the Parish council to federal court and won, he is not afraid to take a school board either.

            Back in 1999 there was a young pretty blond girl named Tempest Smith..she was 11 years old. She hung herself over bullying. It had been going on for years… She took her life when her mom did everything she could to work with the school to make it stop.

            What did the Principle of Tempest’s school say….Don’t blame our kids, they are good Christian kids.

            Maybe the teacher should not have not have been blackballed..I don’t know if he has had other violations against him…but I know that as a teacher he should have known not to ask that girl to cover up her Pent…if no other necklace had to cover up.

          • Lisa lynn says:

            Well said a agree I’m a Christian too. How do they know if the man was a Christian or not. Have people forgot it says not to judge others ? I as a Christian would not judge that girl for wearing that necklac
            As I have no idea of which meaning it is to her. If it was something to do with Satan I would just pray for her people can be quick to judge when they see something without knowing the facts Christian or NOT !

          • Amy Etkind says:

            Emma, trust me, you’re one of the few. Many “vocal” “Christians” teach a “Christianity” of fear. Many of them are in the evangelical sects. They teach that their God is someone to be feared and terrified of, lest you step out of line, usually a line of the sect’s creation. I am the lone Witch in a family full of various sorts of Christian, including a “Christian”. My youngest brother became an evangelical several years ago and it has been no end of fighting. He insists that his is the only “true” way, that my (very!) Catholic mother and my (now deceased) father, an on-again/off-again Methodist who believed in God with all his heart and soul, are not “real” Christians, as they don’t believe in lock step with his beliefs. We won’t even discuss the insane amount of grief he has given ME over the years. Yet, when it comes down to it, I get MUCH less grief from my mother (and my father, RIP) for my Pagan beliefs than he gets for his “Christian” beliefs. Why? because, oddly, I live the teachings of of several of the Masters and Avatars of Deity, where he warps the Old Testament to his beliefs and we won’t even discuss how he has NO understanding of the Gospels! And the LIES he tells!

            NB: when I do this: “Christians”, I mean the kind like my brother, no clue about the true teachings of Jesus. When I lose the quotes, I’m referring to the so-called Red Letter Christians, who go by the actual TEACHINGS of JESUS, not the fire and brimstone rhetoric of many of the evangelical and Religious Right sects.

          • eric kiekhaefer says:

            when i was growing up Lutheran, in cathecism (sp?) classes, we were taught “We should fear and love god that…”. Perhaps this did not hold true in your Christian teachings, but it swayed my beliefs.

      • dragonmommie says:

        I agree that if he has a history of this sort of thing, then maybe they had a good reason to fire him. As someone else had stated it could have been used as a learning lesson for that teacher, now there is someone out there with a chip on his shoulder. Isn’t it better to try and turn someone around to agree that all rights need to be respected, and gain his support than to give him fuel for his bias or prejudice opinion? Hate does not destroy hate.

        • NakedAnthropologist says:

          That’s a good point. However, as a teacher I must mention that in order to be hired by a school (either as a regular teacher or substitute) one is required to sign a contract that prohibits any discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion or creed. And I live in the bible belt. Whoever this guy was, he knew what he was doing and he knew it was prohibited. Let’s not also forget that this is a charter/magnet school – the type of school that tries to attract the “best and the brightest”. Parents of any religious minority (in the US that means anyone who isn’t Christian) won’t want to send their “best and brightest” to a school that tolerates religious bigotry or bullying. The principle acted accordingly. Its not as if his teaching license will be revoked – most schools (in the public system at least) won’t want to hire him.

    • kittimcc says:

      WE don’t know what the teacher’s answer was when he was contacted by the Principal. He may have refused to comply or even argued against it. Or not – we don’t know. It does sound like and extreme reaction, since we don’t know the facts.

    • Katrina Thiessen-Beasse says:

      I agree with Dragonmommie. I think he should have been re-educated about the 1st amendment and then made to apologize, publicly. Then, honestly, I think a grade wide, if not SCHOOL wide, discussion on the various religious symbols should have been made and discussed (grade appropriate) and the school should have used this as an opportunity to encourage tolerance and acceptance of differences.

      My elder son (14) got his first pentacle this past Yule. He’s Christain when with his father, and Wiccan when with me. I don’t make my kids choose, I allow them to explore and experience so that they can make educated decisions when they are ready. My elder finally said, “Yes, Í’d really like one. Thanks” My younger has had one since he was 4, he’s 9 now. But then, he lives with me full time and the elder only visits. But I’m proud of my children and I’m THRILLED that the school handled the situation quickly. Even if they did go a tad far.

      • Jeff wilson says:

        Your right Katrina, would have been the perfect time for a discussion on various religious symbols and opening the door for tolerance and acceptance. If your not on a school-board somewhere, “you should be”… :)..

    • Brad says:

      This 2012. The guy is a teacher. There is no excuse for him to be singling out one child and making her feel like a 2nd class citizen because of her religion.

      Stupidity should be painful.

      • BuddyDitzmoresMom says:

        As a teacher, I completely agree. Singling out ANY religion for intolerance or persecution is just completely unacceptable.

        • Logan says:

          End of 2nd paragraph – “Other children in the class had necklaces on, some of them with religious symbols, yet no request was made of them that they hide their necklace. Grace continued to keep her necklace hidden but was upset at being singled out. ”

          Reading the entire article would’ve helped you with this one.

    • jane blaser says:

      I really agree with you. I think the poor man was a victim of over reaction. He was certainly in the wrong but he didnt molest a child. I am a proud Pagan and I am well aware of the prejudice we regularly deal with but I think some information would be more apt in this situation.

    • Barbara Kelley says:

      I like your response Dragonmommie, and feel deeply that education is the answer, NOT punishment, banishing, black-listing. Of course, if he were to have another episode like this, fire his ass forever, but on a first offense, when the issue is more one of insensitivity and perhaps ignorance, I think it pays to be strong, but as gentle as possible. And I am a Wiccan High Priestess, so that we’re all very clear where I’m coming from here.

      • dragonmommie says:

        Barbara Kelley, I just feel that given “This was same day action,” that the principal did not look into what happened and may have feared more any unwanted attention by the media or elsewhere than do his own investigating. OR maybe this teacher already had a history? We really do not know all the facts.

        With that said, I do admire this girl and this mom for standing up for their rights. With a special needs child, I am well aware with the struggle of just being an advocate for my child. Sometimes the schools just placate you, but you get nowhere.

  3. Gordon says:

    I agree with Mirick. The problem could have been solved with a bit of education for the substitute teacher. It wasn’t as if the teacher ridiculed Grace.

    A lot of people could use some remedial first-amendment training.

    • Mitchell says:

      The main issue you run into here is that many people do not know the difference between a pentacle and a pentagram. Modern culture has done such a good job bashing the latter without any thought about the image given the former. It is very saddening.

      • Juniper says:

        I wear my inverted Pentagon proudly, out and displayed around my neck every day at work. I am a teacher. My students have asked about it. I simply say its something that means a lot to me personally. And that its not the place to explain it. They accept that . My employer, I think knows better than to say something about it to me. So there are no problems at all. And yes, my life philosophies are very very misunderstood by those who THINK they know what it stands for. I’m always given hope, when a student dares to ask. Rather than assume.

      • srsmn says:

        Whoa, wait…

        …first of all, there’s not technically a difference, The terms can be used interchangeably, but I assume you are making a reference to the upside-down pentagram used by Satanists?

        If that is the case, how can you be so close-minded as to defend this little girl’s freedom of religious expression, and than bash somebody else’s? The teachers should have been reprimanded whether the symbol was Wiccan, Satanist, Christian, Jewish….whatever. For that matter, he doesn’t need to concern himself with what the kids are wearing unless they contain obscene or profane messages or otherwise violate dress code.

        That’s what is at issue here– *not* the egregious sin of confusing a Wiccan symbol with a Satanist one. I mean, I’m shocked. Honestly shocked at the ignorance there….

        • ravester420R says:

          Theres a trademark for religion on the pentagram? What about when jews use it? The Pentagram in Jewish Mysticism

          The pentagram was the chief symbol within the official seal for the city of Jerusalem between 300 B.C.E. and 150 B.C.E. The star has been identified in Jewish Mysticism as the Seal of Solomon and is sometimes called Solomon’s shield. The pentagram in such depictions is enclosed in a circle and is referred to as a pentacle. In the Key of Solomon it is written:

          He then who shall wish to perform any operation by the means of the medals, or pentacles, and therein to render himself expert, must observe what hath been hereinbefore ordained. Let him then, O my son Roboam, know and understand that in the aforesaid pentacles he shall find those ineffable and most holy names which were written by the finger of God in the tablets of Moses; and which I, Solomon, have received through the ministry of an angel by divine revelation. These then have I collected together, arranged, consecrated, and kept, for the benefit of the human race, and the preservation of body and of soul.

          It is further written that:

          The medals or pentacles, which we make for the purpose of striking terror into the spirits and reducing them to obedience, have besides this wonderful and excellent virtue. If thou invokest the spirits by virtue of these pentacles, they will obey thee without repugnance, and having considered them they will be struck with astonishment, and will fear them, and thou shalt see them so surprised by fear and terror, that none of them will be sufficiently bold to wish to oppose thy will. They are also of great virtue and efficacy against all perils of earth, of air, of water, and of fire, against poison which hath been drunk, against all kinds of infirmities and necessities, against binding, sortilege, and sorcery, against all terror and fear, and wheresoever thou shalt find thyself, if armed with them, thou shalt be in safety all the days of thy life.

          There are a number of different symbols in the Key of Solomon that are referred to as pentacles. The symbols that look most like the pentacles worn by practitioners today are the pentacles with a five pointed star with one point upward enclosed in a circle. The five pointed pentacles are represented in the text as the second pentacle of Venus, used for obtaining honor, grace, and all of one’s desires, and the first pentacle of Mercury which is used to invoke spirits who are under the firmament.

          Food for thought.

          • CRB says:

            Jewish people use something called the “Star of David”, not a pentacle or a pentagram. the Star of David has SIX POINTS. a pentacle or a pentagram (note the “penta” part–it means “five”.) has FIVE.

            • ken says:

              lady why would your refer to jewish faith as jews REALLY!Beside you need to have bit more knowledge about things like this before you say something like that.The jewish faith symbol is Star of david.The pagen faith symbol does not have nothing to do with jewish faith.The star of david is 6 points and the pagen symbol is 5 point’s.

  4. Leslie says:

    While I do think the sub should have been “disciplined” I do not think it was necessary to fire him—a man’s livelihood was destroyed over something that could have been a teaching moment for all. That’s not right.

      • Erika L Statler says:

        Exactly, Dreddnought!

        When I was in high school (late 90s), and during my religious experimental phase (I turned out to be an agnostic atheist), I wore a pentacle to school and was sent home and suspended for “wearing items that purposefully disrupt the learning environment of others” — yet, a school-approved group of Christian kids would hold hands in a big circle around the American flag pole and pray -EVERY MORNING-.

        Needless to say, I dropped out soon after …

    • silverguardian says:

      I know that I’m a bit passive … but really. These kinds of experiences should be challenges for teaching our children to deal with them. If it had happened to one of my children, I’d have gently reminded her that choosing our own way in life doesn’t automatically mean that others will approve. My approval doesn’t mean blanket acceptance.

      Being certain of our choices should mean that we are okay with them for ourselves. But I see no harm in covering something that others are upset by. Covering it … that was well done of her. But when we feel hurt by things like this, that isn’t forced on us. We choose to feel hurt or embarrassed or picked on.

      We could instead choose to feel relieved not to have a religion in which we are ruled by a jealous and fearful god, and amused that a teacher is so silly that he is unnerved by a necklace.

      • omgsitstasharose says:

        What isn’t said in this piece is that Grace went back to her desk and cried when he told her what he did. He made her feel belittled. How is that OK to just comply? It’s not and it isn’t something that has or will ever be taught to my children. It is perfectly acceptable to wear her necklace. She has every right. The right that someone doesn’t have? The right to not be offended. Her rights were infringed. His were not. That is plain and simple.

  5. Nightcloud says:

    That is very prombt and correct action taken. I think the substitute teacher should be given the opportunity to educate himself and then perhaps allowed back into the school district, he may have other talents that the district needs. However, inflicting one;s on prejudices on students is something that needs to be halted immediately when it occurs. We are losing too many young ones to these and other falings of our schools in the urban environment. I aplaud the principel’s actions.

  6. Keltikmystique says:

    Awesome! I applaud the Principle for not only her fast response regarding the matter, but for her fairness and understanding. It’s so great to hear stories like this!

  7. Trish R. says:

    This is my opinion – you are entitled to your own:
    While I can understand the importance of being able to express one’s religious belief and not being singled out for it, I feel it was also unjust and unfair that the substitute has lost his job over what I see as a misunderstanding. The principal went way too far in having the sub fired (and making sure he probably won’t be able to work elsewhere in the county). The intelligent thing to have done would have been to have a meeting, in which the substitute could thereby be educated on the child’s beliefs. Perhaps he was simply offended by the necklace, having not known the beliefs attached to the symbolism. At any rate, the meeting, in turn, could have been a great learning experience for everyone else, but the principal, in my opinion, chose to act rashly and it doesn’t seem the parent cares much that the sub lost his job, either. At the root of it, this is probably the district’s or school’s fault for not properly educating the substitute while he was attending training classes. This is something that is NOT built into the typical 3-day curriculum, if you will. I say this because I don’t know about Minnesota, but I recently went through substitute training here in the state of Florida (I am a non instructional substitute AND a person of multi-faith beliefs). The instructors, NOR any of the written information (pamphlets, guides, etc) we were given mentioned anything about how to handle “religious” issues inside the school; while, however, we were given information on everything else from not hugging, to putting the childrens’ safety first. Overall, I believe the situation could have been handled much better but sometimes we make misjudgements – and should we not get a second chance to learn from those mistakes, rather than be made an example??

    • Finwetari says:

      So, simply because ONE PERSON was offended, we should say it is okay? I am offended daily by many things, yet I don’t speak out about them. There is no point, for most of it. Just because he was offended -knowledgeable about her personal beliefs or not- it was incorrect of him to single her out publicly while allowing others -with other religious symbols- to openly wear theirs. In my opinion, he deserved what he got. If you don’t want to do the time, don’t do the crime…perhaps not the right analogy, but it applies all the same.

      It was not a “religious issue” as you say. She was not spouting her beliefs, she was not praying in any way, she was not even speaking of her beliefs at all. She never mentioned them. She simply went to school wearing her necklace that she’d been wearing all year with no comment, and ONE PERSON -a person that is not even there full time- decides that it is inappropriate? There is no religious issue. There is only personal intolerance, and a lesson learned.

  8. Tammy says:

    I feel you shouldn’t have had to put your neckless under your shirt. Be proud of your belief no matter what any teacher says. We have if hard enough. Keep up the great work.

  9. HR Mitchell says:

    I wonder if his intent might have been to protect her from bullying by other students, not realizing that there had been no previous incidents of that nature.

    • Becky says:

      Unfortunately I’ve had experiences with substitute teachers which were completely secular in nature which make me fear the opposite. I once had one who even picked on kids in the gifted class by trying to actively teach us things which were wrong and then threw the ones who tried to persist in doing the work (the subject was math, so there was no room for debate) correctly out of class.

      That’s just the completely secular “bad subs”. Most subs do not have a teaching background (so there’s no student teaching period where they could figure out how these people actually interact with children and teens) and they do let bigots sub in school systems – they have no way to know who is or isn’t one until they get into a classroom and kids and parents start coming forward stating that the sub was trying to teach hate propaganda or threatening children.

    • Tasha-Rose says:

      Grace has encountered bullies before and with the same strength she ahndled this. She knows how to stand up for herself…with kids it’s different for her. She told me herself that this adult knows better. Other kids don’t know so she brushes off their criticism, but she also takes the time to educate them. An adult is intimidating and while she stood up for herself, makign sure she let me know was crucial. I am proud of every action she took.

      • John Palazzolo says:

        I am very proud of your kid as a Pagan School Bus Driver. I walk into schools all the time (to use the bathroom) with my Pentacle out in the open. My kids (and some adults) think it’s the jewish star. when I tell them my last name they get shocked ( I’m sicilian). No body has every said anything to me in the schools as per the staff.

      • Jeff wilson says:

        Grace sounds like a very intelligent young lady. How proud you must be of her. I don’t even know her, except for what I have read, and I’m proud of her. She has learned in just a few years, what takes many a lifetime to learn, and unfortunately some never learn. She is truly wise beyond her years.

    • Bea says:

      “things like that should be kept to yourself” ?? Sounds like his own prejudices not protection. And remember he was there for a day or a few perhaps. And perhaps the everyone is being unfair to the principle. No one knows what conversation took place between her and the sub. Perhaps he was not willing or able to see the other side of this situation. Perhaps he just expressed views she felt that might be detrimental to young minds.

  10. BearDrummer says:

    I applaud the school principal for recognizing the problem and putting her children first. If it had been a pagan putting down a christian, people would have demanded that this be the action taken. It is only fair that it be that way here.

    Still, we DO live in a world of “innocence before proven guilty”, so the final decision needs to include affirmation of truth, and possibly an explanation from the substitute as to WHY.

    I know many good hearted, kind people whose prejudice is based on the misinformation given them by their figures of authority. They act in ways that are completely inappropriate and damaging to the person with whom they interact, in an attempt to be helpful. For these people who are trying to look out for the other person’s good, training might help.

    I also know many people who have formed a hatred of (insert prejudice here) who will take any attempt to present a different view to them as an assault on THEIR superior beliefs. No amount of training will help these people overcome their hatred and fear, and the only way to protect the public from their prejudice is to not have them in public positions.

    You can forgive a person for shoving a kid when they thought a car was coming that might run them over… you might just have to define what a car is, and how to better handle the situation. You can’t allow the bully access to kids to keep shoving them to feed their own hate/fear.

  11. d.hirajeta says:

    3 cheers for understanding, although I only assume that the substitute must have put up a fight about it otherwise they would not have been reprimanded to such a degree. If that’s the case then it’s his loss for certain, I hope he atleast learned his lesson.

  12. Carl says:

    Discipline and educate the substitute teacher. Kick them out the school and run them out of the district? A complete power trip and overreaction by the principal.

    • Kaade says:

      For as many unemployed people who are qualified and on the lists to substitute teach, why shouldn’t one that has never singled out a student like this be getting the job- and the pay? Too many people in this economy haven’t had a first chance yet for us to be giving second chances to this guy. May a much more deserving person get the work they deserve because of this principal’s decision.

    • CRB says:

      you shouldn’t be so quick to assume that it’s just a power trip–you don’t know how the conversation between her and the teacher went. you don’t know whether or not he was like “screw you, I’ll do what I want” or not.

      • ken says:

        Don’t matter what the girl said to the teacher.All teachers know you cannot address any relidgous symbols to anyone.I would told her myself if I was that child that she had no right to ask her too take it off or hide it.So way I see it the school made a example of the teacher so know other teacher will try that.The teacher got what was comeing to them.

  13. Kerry McKenzie says:

    Here in Australia, I had a similar issue with my daughter’s pentacle until I bought it up at a school council meeting, sending a formal letter to the council president and principals. This was read out to the comittee, no names mentioned. It was dicussed in depth, in front of me, and was agreed that the penticle was to be recognised as a religous symbol. It was then I spoke up and said it was MY daughter concerned, spoke about the harrasment from staff about it and how a couple of staff had demanded she remove it (proudly she refused). I also said she would wear it discreetly but if by chance it was visable she would NOT be removing it. I also said I found it distressing that she had been demanded to remove hers but several others wearing crosses etc were not asked to remove theirs. I received an apology and it is now listed as a recognised religous icon in school uniform policy

  14. Sandra Carr says:

    It’s so good to finally read a story like this. Usually it involves a poor child being forced into homeschooling due to prejudice and harrassment. And what a joy it is to see the next crop of Pagan youth growing up so happy, healthy, and proud of who they are! Bravo to Grace for telling the Goddess’s story to those who wished to listen, and to her mother for rewarding her with a sacred symbol to mark her understanding. We as a society desperately need to bring back the “coming of age” ritual, even if it is as simple as gifting a pendant.

  15. Tasha-Rose says:

    Hi all, I am so surprised at the result of this story. When Cara asked if she could do the story, I told her I was fine with it, if Grace was. I expected that probably the people who know and love Grace would likely respond and let her know how loved she is and proud they are of her…That this has gotten the response it has blows me away. I told Cara after she told me parents all over are contacting her because of similar situations (she is referring them out to Selena Fox-who clearly knows well how to handle these things..) that this is the real action that I hoped would happen…change everywhere so our kids don’t have to feel singled out or bullied.

    I am so proud of my daughter for standing up for her beliefs. While the principal’s punitive action may have been harsh (especially in this economy-I thought about that too…) perhaps it’s the education he needed to know that he can’t single kids out like that. I wish him only well in the rest of his career and hope, truly, that he takes the positive from this and thinks about what he says to students in the future.

    My daughter is a very strong and smart kid. I’m very proud of her. I hope that this issue helps kids like her to know that they don’t need to be ashamed of their faiths, beliefs, the jewelry or language they use associated with that or the folks they and their families hang out with.

    • Q says:

      There’s no doubt that the teacher’s action was ignorant, but there are many good people who act out of ignorance. Can you say that you have never acted out of ignorance in your own life?

      I’m not sure what right anyone here has to criticize Christians. If this were turned around and the teacher had told a child to hide a crucifix and then been fired, I think we would all think it was an overreaction for the teacher to be fired and blacklisted.

      The child being a pagan doesn’t make it any less of an over reaction.

      • omgsitstasharose says:

        On the contrary. Grace mentioned to me and this is taught in our home that tolerance is of the utmost importance. I will fight for a Christian kid’s right just like I would fight for a Muslim kid or a Pagan kid. Please do not make the assumption that just because she is a Pagan kid that the issue was raised. The issue was raised because there was a blatant disregard for her rights and no one else was told the same thing as she.

        If my kids decide that they want to espouse Christianity some day, or Buddhism, or Islam or want to follow the guy down the street while he blows bubbles and sings songs to people, I will support them whole heartedly when someone discriminates their right. It isn’t about being Pagan, or Muslim, or Jewish or Christian; it’s about her right as a HUMAN BEING to feel how she feels and practice what she believes without ridicule no matter what she believes. Period.

        I’d do the same for any kid…and have.

        Please do not begin to assume. We all know the adage well, I am sure.

  16. Debbie Jarrell says:

    To those that say that the substitute teacher just needs some education…. The substitute teacher already knew what the pentacle was, what it stood for, and that it was a symbol of her religious beliefs. If he didn’t know, he wouldn’t even have said anything. When a Wiccan wears a pentacle, as I do, most people don’t say anything because they don’t know what it is.

  17. Sean Aulbach says:

    As a St. Paul resident and single father to a 5th grade girl, I am pleased to see that there are still people out there in our school districts that are willing to stand up for other people’s rights… especially when they are not quite “the norm”. I am also a student and attend a very diverse school where religions, cultures, and races of all kinds are represented. Very proud of Grace and Tasha-Rose for standing up for their beliefs.
    Side note: I came across this article on facebook when it was posted by my cousin in Seattle… good new travels far and fast these days!

  18. Lita says:

    I am seeing a few “this should not have been handled this way” comments. I think a lot of people are looking at the sub as if he were them… not a teacher. A substitute has to know the rules of the school before teaching there. As long as the school does not have any rules against jewelry or religious symbols, then there is absolutely no way that he did not know what he was doing. Even if the teacher did not know what the symbol meant, he can not ask a student to hide their jewelry.

    The principal reacted the only way he could without making this into a huge issue. If he had not done what he did, he ran the risk of being slandered and the school being slandered by every other religious faith other than Christian. It would have been a disaster. He was protecting not only the student, but the school and it’s reputation as well as his own reputation.

  19. Jeannie says:

    yay. good for you. I am a pagan as well and I will always uphold my beliefs with every fiber of my being.

    Society really needs education on the many different religions and mind there own business unless someone is trying to push there religion and beliefs on them.

  20. spiritmind says:

    i believe the principle overreacted, a good Manager gets all the facts before they react. This is something he failed to do I do not believe it was to protect anything other than his job and not have a national issue come down on his school. To take a individuals lively hood because they they failed to see the value in a spirituality belief different from most rather then educating them is not much different from what he did when he asked Tasha – rose to hide her necklace.I too Very proud of Grace and Tasha-Rose for standing up for their beliefs as they are mine as well. I just feel sorrow that this man will never be educated as he is now enraged at the loss of his career.

    • Lita says:

      I have serious doubts that the teacher was not talked to before being fired… as far as losing his job… it’s not the end of his carreer… He may struggle for a short while, however there are other schools, and some schools that focus on one religion. I am sure he could apply to work at one of those school where he will not have to deal with people outside of his own beliefs.

      No where does it say that the teacher was not questioned. No where does it say that the teacher was fired without being educated about this. If he was not educated prior to being let go, or questioned first, I am sure we will be seeing his side of the story soon as well.

      This looks like just one mother’s view of what happened. She was told that the teacher was let go, no other facts were given as that would cause an even bigger problem.

  21. Shonna says:

    Heartening! What none of us knows, really, is what went on between the principal and the sub when they discussed what happened. Could it possibly be that the principal went so far as to fire him for more than this incident? It seems like a harsh treatment for one incident, but we don’t know based on this if this was the only time this person did something like this.
    This girl is obviously brave and did the right thing in telling her mom and her mom did the right thing taking it everywhere she felt she needed to in order to protect her child. Stay strong! Blessed Be!

  22. Scott Stone says:

    Of course I agree that the girl should be able to wear her necklace, just like anyone else at the school. But, I must misunderstand the circumstances. For them to not let the subsitute teach there any more, or to not teach at all seems very harsh to me.

    A necklace with a Crucifix, Star of David, or Pentagram is a personal matter in a public school. No child should be discouraged from wearing something like that and the teacher was wrong. But — I don’t see any bias against that one religion versus others on the teachers behalf.

    If he had asked a child with a Crucifix to put it in her shirt, it would have been no different.

    Just as children have the right to — and do — pray or meditate in school, they have the right to have such jewelry indicating their faith. But, it is still a personal matter. A child does not have the right to proseltyze or evangelicize their viewpoints. The employees of the public school have to protect students from others that may push their religious viewpoints, and they may not favor any particular religion over others.

    Having said that, I don’t see how having necklace jewelry indicating ones faith shold be considered to be proseltyzing and evangelicizing, The substitute teacher was wonrg, but a simple correction by the principal should have sufficed.

    • Finwetari says:

      The main point being, he did not ask ALL students to hide their religious symbols, only Grace, thus singling her and her faith out. It is a very high chance he clearly understood -or thought he understood- the meaning of her pentacle, and was personally offended by it, but instead of approaching her privately before or after class, he singled her out in front of everyone who previously had not had problems with Grace’s necklace. Since we do not know how the situation between the principal and the teacher went down, we can not say whether he did or did not display understanding of what he did being wrong, and because we don’t know these details, it is not for us to say whether this punishment is fitting the crime.

      • Scott Stone says:

        The article said “a request not made to other students wearing religious necklaces.” This does not assert that otehr students were, or were not wearing religions necklaces or not, or whether they were hanging out ot not.” You suggest that he had some ulterior motive, such as biaas agensther religion whn there is no evidence that says that was actually the case. it also does nt sday that he singled her out, nor that he did it publicly in front of the class. In fact it suggests (without beng clear) that he told her privately.

        Clearly he was wrong. He may have told a student with a Cricifix tat there emplem was a private matter also) which is the case in a public school too. We just don’t know that because no other student complained.

        Inmy mind, if allhe did was ask her to tuck her necklace in, without indicating disfavor of any kind, then he made an honest mistake and should have merely been corrected. He was after all, a substitute teacher. He may not have been, and probably was not familiar with the school or the students, and likely was a beginning teacher.

        If he had chastised any student for their religious beliefs, regardess of the religion, perhaps being fired would have been appropriate.

        In my mind, compassion and grace would have been a better approach than zero tolerance. The heavy handed approach certainly did not sit well with the Mom, nor would it with most Pagans.

        • caraschulz says:

          “Other children in the class had necklaces on, some of them with religious symbols, yet no request was made of them that they hide their necklace.”

          • Scott Stone says:

            This was written by the Mom, what she heard from her daughter. Did the other kids have their religious emblem tucked in? Did the teadcher talk to them at some other point before — or after that the child did not happen to notice? My point is, it seems natural that the teacher would want to have students keep private stuff private. It is a teachers job to protect them from prosletyzing by other students. The child probably did feel singled out, but that doesn’t mean that it was so. The teacher was mistaken to tell this student, or any student to put their religious jewelrey away, but it is hrdly something worth firing over, just because he might have be critical of someone elses religious beliefs. Perhaps he was — but they should not fire someone just because they might have felt that way, ith no evidence supporting it.

            I guess seeing the pricipal respond this way, rather than indifference is the better option.

  23. Nita Ostroff says:

    Do you really want a sub teaching in your school if he doesn’t even know what your child’s constitutional rights are or that a pentacle or pentagram is a religious symbol? I don’t. Good for the school system. My daughter was 8 or 10 when we got her the first pentacle too. This means a lot to children and they are every bit as proud to be allowed to wear one as a Christian child is to have their cross.

  24. Rin says:

    I think a lot of people are making assumptions here. It’s being assumed that the principal did not speak with the substitute before making the decision, but same day action hardly excludes this possibility. This also might not be the first problem that has occurred between a student and the substitute, or the substitute and the administration.

    While I do find the potential for over-response concerning the employee, I am certainly glad that it was handled quickly and professionally.

  25. Robin says:

    Who’s to say whether or not this substitute will or will not teach again in that district. The principal does not control the district, just one school. That said, I am more than thrilled that there was a positive action taken.
    There is entirely too much ignorance with regards to our religion, even or maybe especially in this day and time. I think that all teachers should have some kind of education on religions, not just the mainstream ones. They need to have that as a required course when people train to be any kind of instructors; from kindergarten to college.
    If this misinformed teacher did, in fact, lose his livelihood, then I am sorry, but I like to believe that all things happen for a reason. Blessings! )0(

  26. Jen says:

    While I am not Pagan, I find this story reminding me of a time as an elementary child when I was told to go down to the bathroom to wash off the blue eye-shadow my mother had showed me how to wear and how proudly I put it on and wore it to school emulating my mother and wearing of make-up. The teacher, one of my favorites, made me feel badly and singled out and that I had been a bad child for wearing mother-approved make-up into the 5th grade class. As long as a child is confident in who they are and why they choose what they choose, I find no fault in wearing jewelry or make-up really having anything different about them. They could choose to read the I Ching at recess – it’s their right and we should foster people’s tolerance of differing beliefs in order to all live more peacefully. From this article I don’t see that anything Grace did hurt or offended any other child, which should be cause for praise in her good stewardship of her own beliefs and tolerance of others. I do find some of the comments left here about persons of other religions being fear-filled cutting and harmful and made of the same stuff they seek to rebut. Teach children love and tolerance – it’s the only way they can stop the cycle of hate.

  27. jams says:

    Hmmm,? Many here seem to agree that the principals decision was correct and just. The teacher obviously made his decision based on his value. Okay, thats fine. The principal should have just simply addressed the teacher concerning his judgement and offered a simpler solution. Such as the teacher understanding from other possible positions. Then it would be easy to say to the student, its okay to wear your pendant outside your shirt. Many here seem to suggest that he should apologize on natinal tv. Ha! shallow is what comes to mind. As for the girl she did right! she put it in her shirt as reqested. It is important that children learn to obey authority and can accept orders to a certain degree. It prepares them for the adult world. As for the inverted symbol, it is not a religious symbol, nor is pagan a religion. Check your history. This i have inner peace through my own senses, is no different than calling yoga a religion.

    • omgsitstasharose says:

      It is a symbol of her belief in the Goddess and of life. Her religion is not Pagan, but she identifies as Pagan in her community of peers and elders.

      As for her obedience, I do not believe for a second that she should just comply because an authority told her to. She has been reared to question things when they do not make sense or fall in line with what she has been raised to understand. This was one such instance.

      Further, hers is not inverted.

      • John Palazzolo says:

        Tasha i am proud of you and your daughter for standing uo for you are. I learned in my 6 years of training as a pagan that the inverted pentacle is the black arts. Thanks for doing what you did!

        • Rosemary says:

          Actually the inverted pentacle does not symbolize the black arts. It often can symbolize another initiatory level within Wicca.

          Also it was Anton LeVay, a leader of Satanism, that inverted the pentacle and gave it that particular meaning in his world.

          A similar symbol, the swastica ( forgive spelling) also had a similar mishap of being turned a certain way and given a different meaning with Nazism, even though it has historically been a very postive symbol in Hopi tradition as well as a few other religions around the world.

          Essence of my post, symbols get twisted by people all the time.

    • Barbara Kelley says:

      Jams, you are COMPLETELY misinformed. Wicca IS INDEED a religion. It’s even now recognized by the United States Government and those soldiers who are Pagan and/or Wiccan and are killed in action now have Pentagrams on their headstones. So please, get a clue.

      Secondly, in response to your quote, “It is important that children learn to obey authority and can accept orders to a certain degree. It prepares them for the adult world…” I can think of no more important skill in this day and age than for ALL people, NOT just children, to learn to MAXIMALLY question authority, and to NEVER back down in the face of injustice and ignorance. Your way teaches us all to be passive sheep.

  28. ken says:

    You know what.If this teacher would of single any other kid out like another christen child and if that teacher would of been pagen and they would of just slapped that teachers fingers the christen community would of called for that teachers job.So dont act all humble when you know just as well if this would been your child you would of wanted that teachers head.I think school did the right thing make a example right of that bat showing that things like racism and being predgeless towards another Relidgion will not be tolerated.Those type of things should be handled with swift hand.Just as same as bullying.Dont expell child that got beat up as well or hit.What is that teaching that child or if that child was getting beat up and he defended himself or herself well violence is not always the answer but it is called for when you are getting your butt kicked.We are not victems and we should not act as victems.

  29. Wolf says:

    I’ve been asked to do something similar many times, the difference was it wasn’t a public official of any nature, it was my own family. My mother actually wanted to burn anything of mine her super-evangelical sisters or parents thought “demonic” and very nearly kicked me out of the house without anywhere to live. In the process of trying to kick me out, she said my beliefs(tending towards Paganism with an empathetic on the Celtic pantheon) were the reason her cancer returned two and a half years before and was getting worse. We compromised with having most of my books and learning materials stored at a friend’s house so she couldn’t burn them and I am still living here. She passed away six months after that and her two sisters, in from out of state, refused to leave me alone with her at the hospital before her death. They weren’t even going to let me in the room at all because they didn’t want me “casting spells” on her or interfering with them trying to resurrect her after she passed.(In my opinion, that is a whole lot more weird than my wanting to ease her pain a little. Don’t mess with the dead.) They even got the nurses on their side because they were there all the time, my dad was working and I was stuck in summer session college. I always had to submit to the inquisition trying to visit mom, but the nurses waved them on in every time they visited. I know forgiveness is supposed to be a good thing, but I cannot ever forgive them. One of the two sisters lived with us for the month before mom passed and was constantly trying to get in the way of me and mom, then cried about how she was “called by God to serve him by caring for my mom” when I told her I was sick of being kicked to the side when I wanted to see mom. Her parents were just as bad, making snide comments about how I shouldn’t be allowed to live at home with my beliefs and situation(full-time community college student with classes structured around mom’s chemo and appointments). I’ve had my share of discrimination, but I haven’t been able to do a darn thing about it. It makes me very happy to see Grace not only able to do something, but doing it. Good job by both Grace and Tasha-Rose.

  30. Jessica Kranz says:

    I’m glad to hear that the school made a quick decision. I grew up a solitary witch, and my school never backed the students right to display non-christian symbols, including the Pentagram and Star of David. This little girl is very lucky.

    That being said, however, I do think the treatment of the teacher in this instance was one step too far. I think he should have been blacklisted from any class the little girl was in forever, but not from the entire school district. Losing out on some opportunities because of his actions would have been appropriate, but losing out on all of them? He’s going to be forced to move in order to find work, and that’s a little harsh for a moment of stupidity.

  31. Ann says:

    A teacher that needs to be educated that you can’t discriminate against a child (asking her to do something that was not asked of everyone else) based on religion, is a teacher that is too stupid to be educating kids, permanently or temporarily. Would it be reasonable to try to educate a teacher who discriminated against a child because of race? This substitute rightfully lost his job, but another, hopefully better qualified, substitute will gain one.

  32. omgsitstasharose says:

    I want to make it perfectly clear that the decision the principal made was hers and not one I was expecting. I expected further tolerance training and definitely an apology letter to Grace. I imagine SPPS, like many districts, has a zero tolerance approach to matters like this and that is likely what they acted on. Of course, I only speculate. The lesson is made clear though, to other faculty, though, that intolerance is not acceptable and will be handled quickly and stiffly.

    Is there vindication for Grace in this? No. But action was taken and now there is light on an issue where there wasn’t before. Other kids and other parents will know that they can take action. Not everyone will get results right away, but that is when it is important to be diligent and be the squeaky wheel. Our kids will learn nothing if we pat them on their heads and say, “It’s ok Jimmy, that teacher just doesn’t know what s/he is talking about. It’s OK to comply and hide who you are.” They learn nothing.

    Grace is an incredibly compassionate kid and I really think it shows in her empathy for this teacher’s dismissal. While it isn’t necessarily what we expected, action was taken and light was shed and that’s what we can be grateful for in this situation.

    Honestly, it’s really upsetting to see people bashing Christianity like it had something to do with this. The fact is, it does not have a bit to do with this. What it has to do with is one person’s ignorance. Have I been ignorant before? You bet. We all have; an additional fact of the matter in the aftermath is people who are being ignorant about Christianity AND Paganism in responses here and elsewhere in the ether. Please stop it. You do that, and our kids really learn nothing even when positive things happen in the advancement of tolerance. We have this issue come up on the heals of MLK day…a day I hold very sacred in my heart as MLK is one of my personal heros. Did we learn nothing as HUMAN BEINGS from him?

    In the end game, none of this is about religion. It’s about human rights. That’s all. The human rights of my little girl were infringed upon, she stood up to it with my help and action was taken by the offender’s authorities.

    Can we all take away from this the compassion that my daughter has please? If anything?

  33. Lita says:

    Just a little side note for everyone who is reading the comments. There are a few claiming poor education on the teachers part… well there is a problem with that right there. I don’t know how many people know this but if you go to college at all or have been to college recently you have taken a class about exactly this thing. Even as a student in game design I have taken a class all about racism and prejudice. Teachers have to continually go to school, especially substitutes. So as for the “he should have been educated not fired” comments… well he is there to educate and he does know better. He can’t work in a school without knowing better.

    I somehow doubt that he was fired based on one single incident so everyone should just keep posting their opinions about how harsh his punishment was based on one mothers statement of how her child was the last straw.

    I also doubt that he will have to move. He will most likely be forced to take a repeat class of how to treat people, then placed in another school away from this child and he will be monitored to make sure it does not happen again.

    Oh and I’m not pagan… I just know better than to do that in a place of work. It’s also not an obediance thing when you are going against a persons rights.

  34. Silvermoon says:

    i am a grand total of 15 years old, and i wear my pentical to school every day. i refuse to hide it when the teachers tell me to, and some have done it daily. they need to get thier act together and let me express myself the way i want to.

    • Jane says:

      Silvermoon, this page http://www.religioustolerance.org/ps_pra9.htm might be of interest for you. Please read the whole thing, but particular attention to the “Constitution Prohibits: Banning the wearing of religious clothing and symbols” section and the “more detail” thereof. Your teacher is breaking the law by doing that (unless it is “disruptive,” which it only could be b/c they are making it so!). Blessed Be!!

  35. Greg Currie says:

    There are a number of commendable things here. First, it is commendable that Grace Mirick spoke to her mother about the issue. Conflict at school can sometimes be embarrassing to talk about, and it was a brave action to bring the issue up when getting home. Secondly, it is a commendable that Tasha-Rose Mirick stood up for her daughter’s rights by taking action. The school principal’s prompt response and giving the matter due regard for it’s seriousness is also commendable.

    I do take issue with the degree of penalty apparently applied against the teacher. As a substitute teacher, he’s likely a newly graduated teacher and just starting out his career. Mistakes happen. I believe his request to Grace Mirick was morally and legally wrong. But it was, in the end, a mistake. If the teacher is no longer able to get substitute positions to get experience, his career as a teacher will likely be over and all of the time and money spent on his education will be wasted. I’ve been involved in protecting the rights of Pagans and Wiccans her in Canada and abroad, but crushing this teacher’s future serves little good compared to dealing with the issue to correct the problem and ideally make it a teachable moment for the teacher, the school, and the broader public audience.

    I hope things improve for the teacher and that he has used this experience to grow as a education professional. I’m also glad that the resolution of the matter has been positive for young Grace Mirick.

  36. Rosemary says:

    I wonder if the reason for so many responses to this is all of us has faced some kind of bullying or being singled out. Also it hits to the core of how much action is enough.

    I’m very proud of all children who have courage to be themselves and stand up for who they are. I would be even prouder of kids who fight for the rights for everyone to express themselves.

    As for the teacher, we don’t know why they asked Tasha to put the necklace away. I do feel that unless there was a disruption to the class in some way during lesson time, like whispering behind Grace’s back, asking her questions for examples, the teacher was over stepping boundaries and misusing authority.

    Thing is this kind of thing happens alot. It happened to me at age 14, but I was a Christian at the time and one who stood proud. First day, at a new school, the main history teacher asked who in the room thought they were good Christians. I and another student, who was also new, raised our hands. I have no idea why he asked this, but it may have been what began a torrent of bullying behavior towards me by other students. I’m not sure if in my standing strong, I was obnoxious or not, I just know that similar to Grace, I either shrugged things off or educated others if asked questions. What I do remember is, however, the first spell (though I didn’t know that’s what it was at the time) I ever did happened a few months later regarding my wanting very nasty notes the kids wrote to not bother me anymore and to stop. I also remember things getting much worse the next year to where my grades dropped and I just wanted to die than feel the pain from bullying.
    To add to the story, I met some relatives of this teacher, who were Christian and the kids said “yeah that’s our uncle, he’s an athiest and sometimes has issues with Christians.
    The greatest thing I learned and chose to do when I started another new school was that I was going to practice unconditional love to anyone who chose to be a friend to me. That is how I first learned about Wicca, though it took many years later to choose that as my spiritual path that fits me perfectly. Long story short, prejudice has nothing to do with the religion but everything to do with intolerance, fear and maybe pain/wounds. It’s my hope that all people will begin a more spiritual path and learn to live compassion and have curiosity instead of fear.

    I’d like to say I’m proud of Grace. Keep being strong and don’t let others bring you down, Also, I hope you have curiosity about other kids traditions. Knowledge of who they are, what their path is and understanding how they think will go along way toward dispelling fear, and being compassionate.

  37. Patricia Williams-King says:

    I’m entirely pleased with the way this conflict turned out. It’s good to hear that the ignorant and prejudiced don’t always come out on top; or didn’t in THIS situation! And to the commenters: Wicca is ONE religion, yes, a REAL religion, among MANY Pagan religions which still exist in the 21st century. Get used to it. I wear a pentagram ring on my left hand –I’m still looking for a necklace like the one the little girl has. The pentagram (5 pointed star) is a protection symbol favored by Wiccans and Pagans since ancient times. Blessed be….

  38. J.T. Morgan says:

    Somehow I feel very British & quite old in reading about these events. Both the article & the comments seem to be far too much about “point scoring”. Thank the Lady I’m not a school teacher! [nether here nor in the USA] When I was at school in the ’50s & ’60s I think almost any teacher (in whatever type of school) would have been expected to demand the removal of any type of necklace of any sort with (or without) any type of symbol, from any pupil under the age of 14; & the same would have held for nose rings/studs or ear-rings/studs on the grounds that they were inappropriate for school wear. This would also have applied to rings on your hands & bracelets on your arms, too. What you did, or wore, outside school, at weekends & over the holidays, was another matter. Between the ages of 14 & 16 things were more flexible depending on what sort of school you were at. But by 16 if you were not prepared to abide by the “No jewellery” rule – if your school had one – you would have been expected to leave & continue your education at a College of Further Education where such rules did not exist. Frankly, it wouldn’t have mattered what symbols, talismans, amulets or charms you were wearing – all would have been banned. Today, of course, it would probably all be covered by “Health & Safety Regulations” or “Data Protection Laws”; there would be an almighty row in the tabloid press; & then everything would fizzle out, with the end result of nothing being done or achieved.
    Whether we better, or worse off, then, or now, I honestly can’t decide!

  39. John says:

    let me start by saying that I am saddened by the trouble caused to this young girl by this substitute’s ignorance. However, I can’t help but wonder if the swift and possibly harsh action by the principal was rooted less in sending a strong message to potential bigots and more in trying to head off a lawsuit. I suspect that a zero tolerance policy probably exists in the district, as a cost-saving measure. So many of these policies are designed this way. Sadly, as many have said, a chance for education has passed with the firing of this substitute. When asked, he will likely respond that “some damned pagan got me fired,” and resentment will fester in his heart toward anyone he associates with the incident; sad.
    As regards many of the comments here, I have to at least try to defend my beliefs, which I see as under attack by many posters. I am a Christian. By that I mean, I follow the teaching of Jesus, which boil down to three basic principles: love the creator, love your neighbors, and love yourself. Too many people like to pile a bunch of Pauline doctrine on top of that, as well as two thousand years of writings by men who claimed inspiration from god while denying every teaching of Christ.
    As far as my tolerance for “pagans” (a label I personally hate almost as much as “Native Americans;” how can you lump so many different groups under one banner?), I am married to one. Pentacles? There’s one in my front door, about 12″ across, made into the glass, and another, a door harp, hanging on my back door. In the same house, my mother-in-law has her Sacred Heart picture up, and her saint cards displayed throughout her room. My daughter has basically made up her own faith, borrowing from various traditions as she comes across them. We all agree on one thing, though. Religion can be a straight jacket on one’s faith, and intolerance is like blinding yourself to avoid seeing something you might find distasteful.
    A knee-jerk anti-Christian reaction is just as bad as a knee-jerk anti-pagan reaction. You will find intolerance in any group, once it gets big enough to see itself as different than someone else. This is the thing we need to fight, together, Pagan, Christian, Muslim, Jew, Buddhist, Atheist or Agnostic, plus a thousand other belief systems I haven’t named.

    • ken says:

      WOW, I have been a Celtic Pagen Wiccan for over 30 years and your the first christen that has ever said what you have said with such conviction.Your views on faith is a inspiration because their is no judgement in your words their’s just love.your message is pure without malice intent towards other faiths.Your creator is very proud of you because his teachings have gotten through to your physical being.I belive all faiths are all connected if its based in love and respect towards our fellow man and our creator as well our fellow creatures on this earth.John you are a very bueatiful spirit and soul and for you to guide your daughter through her path of faith wether its the same or different then ours is a true christen and man of faith.Thank you for your words of love and Respect.

    • Finwetari says:

      Thank you much, and I agree. As an Agnostic Atheist (the two are not mutually exclusive, as agnosticism is the refusal to admit or deny the presence and possibility of a deity and atheism is the refusal of belief in a deity) I find a lot of misunderstanding across the world. I have Christian friends of varying “beliefs”. I have pagan friends, again of varying paths. And I have many atheist friends, though sometimes their Christian-bashing gets on my nerves. The only problem with most (I say MOST, not all) religions is there will always be some sort of fanatic -be it a singular person or a group of any size- and that they wholeheartedly believe that only their religion is true, and thus anyone who does not subscribe is beneath them, and thus are snubbed, ridiculed, hated. Islam, for instance. If you do not ascribe to the Quran and their beliefs, you are a heathen and infidel and deserve whatever they deem right for you, up to and including death. Many facets of Christianity have hate-mongering of this sort as well. I don’t know many Jewish, but I can assume they have their haters as well. You said it correctly: intolerance is in every group. Our problem is trying to sort out who hates whom and why, and what can be done to fix it. Unfortunately, there is no one cure-all for this. We can only try one person at a time.

  40. Fearless Monstrosity says:

    They did something completely right here, which is put the rights and interests of the student first. As for canning the teacher, that certainly takes them out of the equation, but it doesn’t solve the problem. It’ll discourage actions of this sort while the recency of this incident remain in mind, but it isn’t going to change the attitudes towards pagans in the long term. On the whole, there could stand to be more education in terms of culture and religion for the benefit of understanding, but people are almost always going to object to that because for instructors it may be alleged it goes against their beliefs, and for parents it may be alleged that they don’t want their children to learn about it.

  41. Todd Arr says:

    Tasha-Rose! A Thank you for standing up for the rest of us Pagans! And a thank you to the St Paul School District for having an open-mind and taking quick action!

  42. Cherise LaTrice Lorenz says:

    I am glad to see so many feel so strongly, about this sistuation. What hearts my heart is to see so many of you kind of picking on each other. @Tasha-Rose. I am so glad that you stuck up for your child and was involved in her education enough to voice your concerns. Wish more parents would pay this close attention to their little ones. It is true thaty could have reacted diffrently toward the substitute, but maybe this is not the first time this has happened in this school system. Maybe they were sending a message to other teachers, that this type of behavior will not be tolerated. So we all need to be a little more understanding. Bravo for standing up for your wonderful little leader!

  43. FermentedTruth says:

    In my opinion, humans are pack animals and the dominant member(s) of the pack will always dictate the norms, values, rules, codes, etc. So, what has been happening is that for a long time Christianity held the reigns in many parts of the world and could dictate what held true. But, things have been turning, now secularism and alternative belief systems are gaining ground and no longer content to hide in the shadows relegated to second class status.

    It will be interesting to see what the future holds. Maybe one day Pagans will be the dominant culture and anyone who wears a non-Pagan identifier will be shunned. Or maybe there will be laws for not wearing their pentacles on Pentacle day or even to be found breaking the Pagan Sabbath will be meet with harsh punishment.

    I am not trying to poke fun of anyone’s belief system, as I feel the teacher in this situation should of just left the student alone. If he was really a concerned teacher, kindness, patience, and love is what he should have showed, not control and chastisement.

    But it just seems like the same trends keep coming up over and over among social groups throughout the ages: shifting from one pole to the other – caught in some sort of cycle – a circle of Samsara – if you will.

    Honestly, I am just a bit cynical of human behavior. Those on the fringe always promise that they will play nice if they could just be given the chance, but once in power, it is human nature to take it for granted and begin treating others in the same way. I hope as a society we are truly moving toward an era of increased human solidarity and respect for one one another and not a pole shift only to repeat what we should have already learned. I say this because now I see a lot of people arguing over pagan concepts and ideals such as the meaning of the Five-Pointed Star or how to cast a circle in just the same way Christians would argue over the Trinity or the true nature of Eucharist.

  44. Jordan Quinn says:

    What a shame for this young child to be wronged for having pride in her faith. People are so ignorant.

  45. Shelia says:

    Living in the state of Missouri, the religious bias & persecution can be scary. My daughter attends a public school where she is bombarded with not only the children preaching to her, if she says “Oh my god” they DEMAND she “take it back” and they harass her daily about religion,but the school itself teaches “bible” beliefs, also. The school even had a “Christmas” program filled with “god” “jesus” & “personal saviour” talk & where a student gave a sermon at the end.When I tried to have this stopped, I was denied by the ACLU (they said they needed VISUAL proof…what?) & the school retaliated…at one point I was hot lined for child abuse (PROVEN unfounded)…it is my belief they did this to “shut me up”. My daughter now hates school, is in counseling, & cries every day when she comes home. I wish I knew where to find a pagan lawyer – pro -bono 😦

  46. Christopher Blackwell says:

    As anyone can see from the comments here, we Pagans do not have total agreement on anything, like all other we have our own independent ways of looking at things. With us I consider that the be our greatest strength. At least, as long as we remember that is okay for each of us to disagree and not use it for infighting. If infighting starts then it can get just as bad as in any other group.

  47. Thef Uckupfairy says:

    However you look at it – it was unfair for him to single out an individual – the young lady wears it as proud as her classmates do their symbols of faith – it should be a case of them all being allowed to display their symbols of their belief or all of them not being allowed.
    Personally – his small mindedness of thinking that in by ‘brushing it under the carpet’ by making her put it inside her shirt means that it will go away only goes to show that he does not deserve to be teaching in a multi faith school and that he himself needs to be educated.
    Symbols of peoples beliefs are personal – as are styles of dress – taste in food/music/movies etc – we should all respect that of one another – there is enough censorship/hate/war in the world without this adding to it.
    I had a friend many years ago when we were in our teens who took to wearing a star of David – I can remember a few of us saying to her that we did not recall that she was Jewish to which she replied that she wasn’t and that she was wearing it in respect of the Jews who had lost their lives in the Holocaust….. People are too quick to judge when they don’t see the whole picture – the fact that this young lady has a belief and is wearing a symbol of that is something very special regardless of the belief.
    Have a blessed day one and all – love and light )O(

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