For centuries, those of the Catholic faith have been using rosary beads to keep track of their prayers. A circular string of beads with a pendant crucifix, a rosary serves as a sort abacus for counting one’s daily devotions.
But according to officials at Fieldstone Secondary School in Haverstraw, New York, rosary beads also have another purpose: To signify a gang affiliation. And that, they say, is why 14-year-old Jason Laguna was threatened with suspension we he wore his to school.
By all accounts, Laguna is an exemplary student. An former altar boy and member of the student government, the teen was accused of endangering the “safety, health, morals or welfare of himself or others” when he dared to display this traditional symbol of his faith at school. But after his mother contacted the American Civil Liberties Union, school officials put the suspension on hold pending further investigation.
Had rosary beads been officially banned in the school’s dress code, Laguna’s suspension might be warranted. However, according to Laguna’s mother, the school’s policy regarding rosary beads is “unwritten.” How can a kid be punished for violating a policy that doesn’t even exist?
But the better question is this: Should gangs be allowed to determine what other students can and cannot wear to school?