Michigan School Changes Policy on Honor Student Witch

March 25, 1999 12:00 am

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Thursday, March 25, 1999

DETROIT–In a settlement with the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, Lincoln Park High School has changed its policy prohibiting the wearing of pentagrams, allowing senior Crystal Seifferly to outwardly wear the symbol of her religion for the first time since October.

At a March 2 hearing before U.S. District Judge Gerald Rosen, the ACLU argued that the district’s policy violated Seifferly’s religious rights. Seifferly, 17, is an honor student and a witch — a member of the Wicca religion. Wiccans consider pentacles — five-pointed stars enclosed in a circles — icons of their religion.

On Monday, Lincoln Park High School agreed to make an exception to its “gang” policy for students wearing religious jewelry or other symbols as a profession of their religion. It did away with the provision of its policy that stated that pagans and witches are inappropriate in a school setting. And it agreed to pay attorney’s fees to the ACLU.

“I’m happy, I’m pleased and I’m glad it’s over,” Seifferly said. “The longer it went on and the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it wasn’t just about me and just about Wicca. It was about a lot of other people and religions,” she said.

Kary L. Moss, Executive Director of the ACLU of Michigan, applauded the school district for amending the policy and Seifferly for bringing the issue to the forefront.

“We are pleased that Lincoln Park High School recognizes the importance of religious freedom for its students,” Moss said. “Ms. Seifferly should be applauded for her courage in standing up for what she believes is right.”

The Wicca religion has been recognized in United States courts and by the United States Army Chaplain’s Handbook. It stresses individual enlightenment and celebrates the seasons and the four elements: earth, wind, fire and water. Proselytization is forbidden.

Read the ACLU’s previous release on this issue at /news/1999/n021099b.html

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