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Patti Wigington

Show of Support for Georgia Student

By December 12, 2011

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Remember a week or so ago, when we talked about 11-year-old Christopher Turner, a Pagan student who was harassed by his teacher and bus driver? Well, the outpouring of support in the Pagan community was pretty impressive - Christopher's mom stopped by the blog to thank everyone for their kind words, saying, "My son Christopher is astounded at the amount of people that are standing up with him to protect his rights." Now there's an update on just how far that show of support has spread, and the impact that it's had, thanks to social networking.

A joint statement issued by North Georgia Solitaries, Dogwood Local Council, Covenant of the Goddess, the Lady Liberty League, and Circle Sanctuary reads, in part:

After concerns spread about some problems with accommodating Pagan students needs at Bowdon Elementary School (BES), there was an overwhelming show of community support for the Turner family of Carroll County in western Georgia, USA. Many local Pagans and associated organizations reached out to assist the Turners by providing emotional support and offering practical advice. The Turners have been deeply touched by this out-pouring of spirit and wish to express their sincerest gratitude.

In addition, a Task Force of local and national Pagan organizations have come together to help resolve issues between the Turners and BES. The Task Force also hopes to provide the school with Pagan accommodation information and materials with the hopes of avoiding misunderstandings and other problems in the future. Represented in this group are the North Georgia Solitaries (NGS), both the local and national chapters of the Covenant of the Goddess, Circle Sanctuary and Lady Liberty League.

Currently, Carroll County Schools, led by the assistant superintendent, has expressed an active interest in resolving the current tensions and is planning to meet with Ms. Turner. The family and the Task Force are requesting that those with concerns about their situation do not directly contact the school or its employees. It is important that everyone involved have the maximum space needed to focus on resolving this conflict in a positive way. However, all concerned individuals are welcome to show their support for the Turners through the Turner Family Support Facebook fan page or through the simple use of prayers and energy toward a peaceful resolution and healing.

Please direct all media questions to pio@dogwoodlc.org.

So, it definitely sounds as though progress is being made on the family's behalf. I should note that I did contact the superintendent of the district for a comment when the story broke, but never heard back. However, I also recognize that hundreds - possibly even thousands - of people were flooding district email boxes with mail expressing their concern about this issue. Again, to reiterate the point of the press release - please refrain from sending any more emails, because we've spoken enough to get their attention. Now, I'd suggest we sit back and let the Task Force do what they can, and see how things turned out. Thanks to all of you for supporting this student, and for helping to spread the word!

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December 12, 2011 at 3:33 pm
(1) LeylandCypress says:

I attempted to contact the school through their e mail, but the site was disabled. I did wait a day until I could say something in a calm rational manner. I’m glad this is not being swept under the rug.

December 12, 2011 at 4:21 pm
(2) Deborah says:

It seems to me that adults shouldn’t be harrassing children about anything!!!!!

December 12, 2011 at 10:01 pm
(3) E. Conley says:

I’m glad something is being done. The other day my son came home. And was talking about Christmas. I reminded him we have a special night on Yule. He said I know momma. But at school, I have to talk about Christmas. Being pagan is a secret, I don’t wanna confuse my friends, especially since we don’t believe in Santa. And my friends do. At first I was concerned his teacher was trying to get him to hide himself. But then I realized she has been so kind every time we have spoken (knowing were pagan). She is only looking out for him not to get teased, as well as him and her both caring for his fellow classmates. Cause at 5 and 6. He’s right it could get confusing for them. I’m glad him and his teacher care, in many ways for his friends even tho they don’t know it =D

December 13, 2011 at 9:07 am
(4) Meadow says:

This is great news! It’s great to see the Pagan community unite to protect this little boy and his family. Hopefully some of the info these groups give the school board can make a small dent in the prejudice and ignorance most people have about our faith.

December 13, 2011 at 10:32 am
(5) mary says:

Bless this mother and her child! I’m so happy to see something is being done about this. Being a “new” Pagan, my children are past school age but they did have freinds who came from Pagan homes and I always made sure they were comfortable in my home
Its all about tolerance. They had friends who were African American, Hispanic, Jewish and everything else under the sun. I loved them all. Becoming Pagan has given me a glimpse of what its like to be “different” and now I understand how these kids felt every day of their lives. Love and peace to this family!!

December 13, 2011 at 10:37 am
(6) Wanda Rice says:

I am so very glad that you are following up on this story…it was so heartbreaking to know that a child was being treated like this from adults…it is difficult enough when adults are treated with hostility and ignorance. Thanks for keeping us in the loop Patti….

December 13, 2011 at 11:28 am
(7) Lynn says:

In my opinion, what this boils down to is the rights of a person.
If a belief system isn’t hurting others, it’s inherent factors don’t consist of treading on the rights of another individual, then there is no reason on this planet to harass them because they don’t believe as you do. Basically, you have a right to believe whatever you want, so long as your beliefs don’t tread on my rights.
That said, some of the Christian dogma is to convert others, and I sometimes feel like they think they get extra brownie points for converting pagans. While I understand that this is a religion of conversion, and I support that as it pertains to the previous criteria; I do not believe that a school classroom is a place of conversion, for any faith, under any circumstance. I’m glad there’s been such an outpouring of support for this boy and his family.

December 13, 2011 at 12:07 pm
(8) Millie Camacho says:

Not enough is being done in my opinion. What we should call for is the firing or resignation of the teacher and bus driver in question. Schools do not need narrow minded individuals like them influencing young lives.

December 13, 2011 at 12:08 pm
(9) Tricia LymeMom says:

I am so thrilled that those organizations have come out to help. I have no doubts that something positive will come out of this. What great news to start the day! :) Blessings!

December 13, 2011 at 6:24 pm
(10) Jo says:

@E. Conley I have always told my children that Santa is the same as the Oak King, as that is where the idea came from. Look at the Oak King and then at some pictures of St. Nicolaus from the 14th century and you will see a striking resemblance. My grandmother taught us that when the Oak King wrested the mantle from the Holly King he gave gifts to all of his subjects at a great feast. I have been celebrating that way for nearly 60 years now. Just curious as to what you do at Yule and how you celebrate. We always kept secret when I was growing up, but that was a different world then.

December 13, 2011 at 9:48 pm
(11) Bronwyn says:

All flavors of believers have the sacred right to practice their faith. The Creator of All things endowed us with that at creation, regardless of how that being is called upon. The ways are many but the Light is One. i am glad that the harrassment has stopped. no one should be harrassed especially not a child. at least this is one Gnostic christian ‘s opinion.

December 14, 2011 at 4:52 am
(12) Lin says:

Please do not misunderstand my intent. I think it is truly wonderful Christopher Turner “rights were protected”. It has become my personal experience over the march of time that this same set of social rules are not being applied toward female pagans. My daughter, who is college age, and myself arePagans but not Wiccans. Back in the 1990s I finally took my child to homeschool. Are there any examples of people stepping up for girls?

December 14, 2011 at 12:22 pm
(13) Winter says:

But what about the non-Pagan community? Are they coming out in support of this child?

December 15, 2011 at 6:07 pm
(14) Ellie says:

This made my day :) . What a great turn out to a story that shocked and disgusted me last week. Nobody should be discriminated against for their beliefs, ever! The outcry against this is amazing and it just proves that if enough people stand up against wrongdoings, they will be dealt with.

Blessings to Christopher, his family and every single person who helped with this matter. Have a great week. :D

December 15, 2011 at 9:37 pm
(15) E-Lizard-Breth says:

SO – has anyone fired the teacher and the bus driver for their actions?

January 11, 2012 at 6:50 am
(16) Kelly says:

I was wondering, is there a certain website that you hear all the wiccan news from?

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