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Teen in Trouble Over Rosary Beads

By sandymaple |

rosary-beads-sm250For 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?

Image: katybate/Flickr

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8 thoughts on “Teen in Trouble Over Rosary Beads

  1. PlumbLucky says:

    Better yet: why was a Catholic wearing a rosary like a piece of jewelry? (Just checking, as the nuns I had in school were rather explicit in this being a big honkin’ no-no, something about reverence vs. irreverence, showing off, etc.)

  2. Lucky says:

    This does sound fishy since it’s well known in the Catholic community that you don’t wear rosary beads. It’s considered extremely disrespectful.

  3. Maggie says:

    My impression (as an anglo non-Catholic) is that wearing Rosary beads like a necklace is common in some cultures and forbidden in others. It does amaze me that the schools have started suspending kids for wearing religious symbols but not saying it’s about ‘religious symbols’ — but calling it ‘gang symbols.’ Why not tell the truth? It could certainly make sense to ban all religious symbols in a secular context … and would be lots more palatable than having a religious kid facing suspension over gang activity the kid is not doing.

  4. Maggie says:

    and I meant to add: Regardless of the religion. I certainly think it should be equally allowed (or equally forbidden) to wear a cross, a crucifix, a star of David, a pentagram, a crescent moon with star, a medicine wheel and so on.

  5. Rosary Student says:

    Are you Catholic and over the age of 18? Have you said the Rosary Prayer at least once in the past year? If so, please take part in an anonymous research study online that examines the place of the Rosary Prayer in Catholic individuals’ lives. To participate in this doctoral research study, click the following link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/rosaryprayer Participation is anonymous and free of charge.

  6. Cecile says:

    Comments
    I am a middle school teacher and a Catholic. I have noticed more and more of our male students wearing the rosary as jewelry. I do not feel this should be acceptable if there is not a religious reason behind the wearing. The rosary is for prayer and rememberance; it is not a piece of jewelry!

  7. Tamsin says:

    The rosary in the picture is not an orthodox Catholic string of rosary beads; it’s just a bead necklace with a chunky cross (not crucifix.)
    I’m assuming this is just an illustration to the story, not a picture of the actual rosary the student wore.

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