- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 1, 2009

Dear Ms. Vicki,

I was told that you give good advice to military families and others. I’m writing because my children are being discriminated against by their teachers and administrators because we are Wiccans.

It all started when other children at their school found out we are Wiccan. The students now call my children witches and warlocks.

I know my children are being harassed, and this is not fair to them. Their grades are now falling tremendously.

I have complained about this to the teachers, counselors, assistant principal and the principal. They have done nothing about it.

I wanted to use this experience as a learning tool, to teach others about our lifestyle without imposing our views on others. It was my desire to stay calm and educate only to stop the fear and harassment. I asked to do a professional development session for the staff and a presentation to my children’s classrooms. I know this would help others understand, so they would stop judging and name-calling.

The teachers would not hear of this. They all said it would infringe upon the rights of other students who do not want to hear about Wiccans.

Now I don’t know how to help my children and I feel helpless. My husband wants me to keep my mouth shut because it would draw too much attention to our family and may affect him in his Air Force career. He acts like he is scared and doesn’t want to touch this issue. I just don’t think this is fair to my children. It’s not their fault we are Wiccan. What should I do next? • Concerned Parent

Dear Parent,

Thank you so much for sending me so much information about Wicca. To be honest, I had heard about Wicca a few times, but had never taken the time to gather information about the religion.

I am concerned about your children and their emotional and mental well-being. Because you live in Maryland, my first recommendation would be for you to visit the Airman and Family Readiness Center at Andrews Air Force Base. Ask to speak to the school liaison officer, a professional who could lend a listening ear and let you know what recourse you could take and what could be done, i.e., whether you should take this to the school superintendent.

Second, I think you should speak to someone in your Wiccan group for support. I’m sure they would understand as no doubt others have faced the same reactions.

Third, I think your children could use some professional counseling and support.

Understand that I’m not saying Wicca has caused the problems. However, I think the harassment and other mistreatment should be addressed. For this reason, I think you should call Military OneSource and ask to be connected to a professional therapist or counselor in your community.

Lastly, you and your husband should spend some time together, talking about your religion and discussing ways you can come together and provide support to each other and your children.

Vicki Johnson is a licensed clinical social worker, military spouse and mother of three. Her Dear Ms. Vicki column runs in The Washington Times on Thursdays and Sundays. Contact her at [email protected]

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