Parents from Point Defiance Elementary School asked the Tacoma School Board on Thursday to help them keep an After-School Satan Club out of the school.
Tacoma Public Schools administrators told parents they can’t legally block the club.
Because the school district has opened its doors to other non-school groups that rent space after school — including scouts, sports and other activities — it cannot close them to the Satan Club, they said.
The club, sponsored by The Satanic Temple of Seattle, is scheduled to hold its first meeting at the Westside school in December.
Parent Carolyn Carbajal said she plans to protest the club.
“It is just bringing a lot of anxiety to our school,” she said. “I don’t see how it is beneficial to any of our students’ families.”
“No one wants this club,” said parent Jennifer Droubay. “We don’t want a group that identifies itself with Satan to have access to our children.”
“This is an outrage,” said parent Edward O’Brien. “This is far from over with the parents.”
Superintendent Carla Santorno told parents that to keep the Satan Club out of the school, the district would have to deny other groups use of the building.
“Outside entities can rent space at our schools,” Santorno said, noting the Satan Club is not a school-sponsored activity and is not affiliated with the school’s teachers or principal. “Our only option would be to pull out all of the other after-school activities.”
We don’t want a group that identifies itself with Satan to have access to our children
Point Defiance parent Jennifer Droubay
One group that uses Point Defiance for an after-school program is the Good News Club, a Christian program developed by the Missouri-based Child Evangelism Fellowship.
The Good News Club at Point Defiance is one of five such clubs in Tacoma Public Schools.
The Satanic Temple, part of a national group based in Salem, Massachusetts, has said it plans to start Satan Clubs around the country as an alternative at schools that host the Christian program.
Organizers say the Satan Clubs are staffed by volunteers who undergo background checks.
The clubs “aren’t about proselytizing to children, but rather on giving them the critical-thinking skills they need to make their own decisions about the world,” Lilith Starr, who heads the Temple’s Seattle chapter, said in a news release.
Membership is voluntary, and parents must sign up their kids if they want them to participate.
So far, no one has at Point Defiance, said Principal Lisa Boyd.
An earlier request to start a club in Mount Vernon was withdrawn because of scheduling issues with the school district there, Starr said. That’s when the Seattle Temple decided to turn its attention to Tacoma.
The club at Point Defiance would be the first Satan Club in Washington state, and one of nine forming in communities around the country, said Starr.