School districts in New York and Texas are cracking down on students who wear religious jewelry.
Raymond Hosier, a student at Oneida Middle School in New York, said he the principal told him to remove his rosary beads or he would be suspended. He didn’t – and he was.
“I think it’s not right to kick me out of school for wearing rosary beads,” Hosier told WXXA. “They’re in honor of my brother and uncle and that’s how it’s gonna stay.”
Hosier’s brother was killed by a car in 2005 and his uncle died of cancer several weeks ago.
The school district told WXXA the bead ban is based on concerns that the beads might be gang related.
Hosier denied being in a gang and his mother said he does well in school.
“He’s got rights as a citizen,” Chantal Hosier told WXXA. “He’s got the right to demonstrate his religion.”
A spokeswoman for the school said they can’t comment on cases involving suspended students – but the family hopes the school will have a change of heart.
Meanwhile, an eighth grader in Texas City, TX, found himself in a similar situation. A resource officer at Blocker Middle School confiscated a necklace that resembled rosary beads and a cross.
Christian Thompson told KENS the necklace was in memory of a friend who was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq.
“It helps me remember him and makes me feel safe,” Thompson told KENS. “I think it’s not fair that they won’t let me wear it.”
Thompson’s mother, Marissa Harper, said she will fight the ban. “This is more than a necklace,” she told the television station. “It’s a memory and an honor for a soldier who fought and died for our country.”
However, Texas City Independent School District said the policy is designed to protect all children whether they’re part of a gang or not.
“It’s about any item or accessory that’s been linked to gang activity,” spokesperson Melissa Tortorici told KENS.