The Satanic Temple put up a billboard in Springtown this week opposing the paddling of students, an issue that caused a controversy several years ago in the small town northwest of Fort Worth.
Raised Wednesday in the 1900 block of East Texas 199, the billboard says, “Never be hit in school again. Exercise your religious rights.”
The sign also includes The Satanic Temple’s Protect Children Project website, which campaigns against corporal punishment in schools.
In 2012, the Springtown school district changed its corporal punishment policy after a male assistant principal spanked two female students at Springtown High School. The new policy allowed opposite-sex employees to administer corporal punishment, but only with written permission from parents.
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At the time, Superintendent Michael Kelley acknowledged that the assistant principal violated the previous policy and he apologized to the students and their families.
On Thursday, Kelley said he found the timing of the billboard was “very odd.” The school district hasn’t had a case of corporal punishment in about three years, when a guardian requested that an assistant principal spank a male student.
“Corporal punishment has been a non-issue for a very long time here in Springtown,” Kelley said. “Even though the policy allows it, our administrators have opted not to use it.”
Kelley also said he believed the policy was more restrictive than before, requiring a written request from parents and allowing those requests only once per semester.
After the 2012 incident, “The school district received some negative attention — though not nearly enough, in the Temple’s opinion,” a Satanic Temple news release said Thursday.
Lucien Greaves, The Satanic Temple spokesperson, called Springtown a “barbaric backwater town” in the news release and said the billboard “should be disturbing to Springtown, as it is there because Springtown has proven to be a disgrace.”
The Satanic Temple, based in Massachusetts, says its followers do not worship Satan, according to its website. Instead, they view Satan as “symbolic of the Eternal Rebel in opposition to arbitrary authority,” opposing supernatural beliefs and superstitions.