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

Tasha-Rose Mirick Joins PNC-Minnesta

PNC-Minnesota is pleased to welcome Tasha-Rose Mirick to our staff as a reporter.  From her bio:

Tasha-Rose Mirick

Tasha-Rose Mirick is a 31 year old Pagan South Minneapolis mother of three with an obscene obsession with yarn and technology. Tasha-Rose has written for quite a long while, getting her start in journalism in high school as an editor of her high school newspaper. She went on to pursue an English degree and has a soft spot for all things bawdy from the 16th Century.

Tasha-Rose works for Allina in St. Paul, volunteers her time with Harmony Tribe as a board member, and has a generally merry Pagan life in Minnesota. Tasha-Rose is also an experienced belly dancer and directs the Twin Cities’ premier American Tribal Style Belly Dance Troupe, Kamala Chaand.

Sacred Harvest Festival survives The Tower

The Tower card from the Rider-Waite deck

When the Tower card appears in a spread it is not greeted with cheers and smiles. Although Pagans recognize the cycle of destruction must happen in order for new growth to thrive, it isn’t an enjoyable process. It’s painful. At times it can be downright ugly. While a group or organization is in the midst of conflict and tearing down of the old, it can be difficult to manage the process in a way that achieves a positive outcome.

Local festival in crises
For the last year Harmony Tribe, the group that produces the Sacred Harvest Festival, has been dealing with the aftermath of the Tower. Shortly after last year’s festival the board, Tribe members, and festival attendees became embroiled in a serious conflict. Tensions came to a head after a controversial move was initiated by Harmony Tribe to ban two Tribe members and the walls came crumbling down as the entire board of Harmony Tribe resigned en masse early last fall. A rift formed and community members began to choose sides. To make a painful situation worse for all involved, this played out in public.

For many in the wider community, the escalating conflict and subsequent rift struck from out of the blue. “This entire episode was so hurtful and angry. It wasn’t anything like the community I had come to love,” said one attendee who asked not to be named. “I was stunned. I shut down. I almost didn’t come this year.”

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