Published Online: February 26, 1997

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Leave your spikes at home

The principal of a middle school in Elm Grove, Wis., had to make an urgent addendum to his school's dress code recently: No Marilyn Manson garb.

For the past few months, a few students at Elmbrook Middle School have been coming to class dressed in black fishnet stockings, white face paint, and other accouterments of the "shock rock" band that gets its name from actress Marilyn Monroe and murderer Charles Manson.

The all-male group, which recently made an appearance on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine, is known for the vulgar lyrics and satanic themes of its music. Band members often wear white face makeup that produces a ghostly effect.

After a dozen of the band's devotees at the middle school got into a physical fight last month with students who were offended by the group's anti-Christian symbols, administrators decided to take action and outlaw the outfits.

"The band bills themselves as anti-Christ superstars," said Donald Van Buskirk, the principal of the 1,120-student school.

"We felt that wearing that type of apparel was a distraction to the school and constituted a threat to the health, safety, and welfare of all students and staff," he said.

Mr. Buskirk stressed,however, that the new policy is not a radical departure from existing rules because the school already bars students from wearing anything that is considered obscene or that promotes the use of illegal substances.

Besides fishnet stockings and face paint, the amended dress code also bans leather collars, dog chains, black lipstick, occult materials, and "any apparel with spikes," the principal said.

Students who continue to wear these items risk suspension. So far, Mr. Buskirk said, parents have been supportive of the new rules.

--JESSICA PORTNER

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