This story is one of the saddest statements of the reality in our public schools. Jake Balthazor, 15, of Coon Rapids, Minnesota was told to take off a rosary that he wore as a sign of support of his cancer-ridden grandmother. The reason? No, not the separation of church and state. It is because a gang uses the rosary as a gang symbol and teachers did not want any trouble.
In defense of the teachers, they may have been trying to protect Balthazor from being attacked by either that gang or a rival gang.
Mary Olson, director of communication for the Anoka-Hennepin School District stated that students are barred from wearing “apparel, jewelry, accessories or matter of grooming which by virtue of its color arrangement, trademark or any other [that] attribute denotes membership in an organized gang.”
Two gangs, the Latin Kings and the Surenos, use rosary beads as affiliation symbols.
Olson said. “He was told not to wear it because it’s a gang symbol. He may not think of it as a gang symbol, but other students at the school may.”
The school says that it was unaware of the reason for his wearing the rosary and is trying to work something out with him. Previously, the school said he could carry the rosary in his pocket. School officials have a tough job in dealing with such gang symbols. However, the bar of a religious symbol creates different problems. Even putting aside the personal significance of this particular rosary, I do not see how a gang can effectively stop other students from wearing symbols of their religion. What do you think?
Source: NY Daily News