With the positive results from this situation still fresh the Task Force has issued these final thoughts:
“A Week in Bowdon, Georgia: Our Final Thoughts
In the wake of frustration, unity often rises. Out of the hands of chaos, humanity can shine. We found both to be true this week. The power of solidarity and the compassion of humanity broke free from a very unfortunate situation in the small, rural town of Bowdon, Georgia; where a Pagan child allegedly experienced religious discrimination.
“I have worked on many religious freedom cases with Lady Liberty League since its founding in 1985. Never before have I seen a Task Force come together so quickly with so many different organizations involved. It was truly historic for our community,” notes Reverend Selena Fox, founder of the Lady Liberty League.
The Bowdon situation attracted the attention of both local and national Pagan organizations; all of whom simultaneously came together to assess and manage the problem as a single Task Force. Locally, these groups included Dogwood Local Council, North Georgia Solitaries, Pagan Assistance Fund, and The Church of the Spiral Tree. Nationally, the organizations involved were Covenant of the Goddess (National), Lady Liberty League and Circle Sanctuary.
“Many of us had known of each other but had never worked together. We are not only representatives of different organizations, we are also from different Pagan traditions, or denominations, as it were. And we managed to work together to affect change,” added Lady Arsinoe, First Officer of Dogwood Local Council, local affiliate of Covenant of the Goddess.
And the work did pay off. On December 12, Carroll County School System officials and concerned School personnel met with the Turner Family, accompanied by members of the Task Force. The meeting lasted over 3 hours with much discussion and collaboration; after which, all parties felt satisfied with the results. In a statement issued on Dec 13th, the School Administration offered their apologies for the actions or lack of actions that led to this unfortunate point. And, within the privacy of the meeting, various school personnel expressed similar apologies directly to the family.
Moreover, the School Administration demonstrated a sincere willingness to work with the Turners going
forward and to put systems in place to alleviate many of their concerns. Unfortunately, we are not at liberty to disclose the details of these actions because of the involvement of minors. Such private information is normally reserved for approved school personnel and primary caregivers, in this case, Ms. Turner.
However, we can say with confidence that, as a Pagan community, we have made significant steps forward in the education of our educators.
“In all my Civil Rights work within school systems, I have never seen an administration willingly to work toward a peaceful solution and then, collaborate on a joint statement. As Pagans, we need to fully understand and appreciate the magnitude of this aspect of the Bowdon case,” adds Selena Fox.
While these steps alone will not prevent future cases of religious discrimination, they are small steps on our path to freedom and full acceptance. And a small step forward is the beginning of the journey to understanding.
As the Turner children return to school, resume classes and reunite with friends, our thriving Georgia Pagan community will continue to offer them needed support. Both North Georgia Solitaries and The Church of the Spiral Tree have extended their hands of friendship and spiritual strength during this Yule season and beyond.
“I’ve found in my work through NGS…that there are many really good organizations in Georgia. I think the general public would be surprised to know how many of us are in this area,” remarked Lady Charissa of NGS, on the Turner Family Support fan page.
Dogwood Local Council, local affiliate of the Covenant of the Goddess, is making plans to provide their services to the Carroll County School System as an educational resource for future questions concerning Pagan students. And, Lady Liberty League and Circle Sanctuary will continue to monitor the Bowdon
situation as the transitions are made into the New Year.
Over the past week, we, the Task Force, have been absolutely amazed at the coming together of the local, national and international Pagan community through the Turner Family Support fan page. At this time of peace and unity, we thank each and every one of you for showing your support in whatever way was possible. The demonstration of solidarity and cooperation was historic and will not be forgotten. In addition, on last night’s Pagan Warrior Radio, Stephanie Turner, the child’s mother, personally thanked the entire Pagan community as well as the Task Force for all of our efforts.
Over the next few months, please continue to send your energy to the Turners and to all those victims of religious discrimination within our schools. In addition, send your positive energy toward the effective change in religious discrimination cases, so that we may all grow together.
While the strides we made this week will not universally end the problem, the demonstration of solidarity across traditions, geographical boundaries and organizations may have just begun a new chapter in our history. And, furthermore, this unification resulted in one of the most positive of gifts that we could give to ourselves – an open door to educate those people who educate the next generation. Not only is this is a gift for our community today but, more importantly, it is a gift for the community of tomorrow.
Blessed Be and Yuletide Blessings!
Circle Sanctuary, The Church of the Spiral Tree, Covenant of the Goddess, Dogwood Local Council, Lady Liberty League, North Georgia Solitaries
Text written by Miraselena, PIO of Dogwood local Council, Covenant of the Goddess”