February 29, 2008

Suspension for Teens Wearing Crucifixes

by Rachael Grant

Two teenagers in America, aged 14 and 16, have been suspended from South Albany High School for wearing crucifixes that they claim were gifts from their mothers.

Jaime Salazar, 14, says that he was approached by the school’s Principal, Chris Equinoa, who told him to put his necklace away because he considered it ‘gang related’. Salazar said that he then went on to argue with the decision and was told to report to the office. Instead of doing so he went home, and later received a letter that told him that he was suspended for five days due to ‘gang-related behaviour and defiance’.

Marco Castro was also suspended, this time for three days, after he refused to obey an order to remove his string of rosary beads that also had a crucifix and a picture of the Virgin Mary attached.

Equinoa refused to comment on either case, but stated that he was well within his rights to ask any student to remove or hide items that could be construed as gang-related – even if they are religious symbols.

Jim Haggart, executive assistant to the superintendent of the Albany police, agreed that Equinoa has the discretion to ask students to remove such items. The police went on to say that crucifixes and rosaries as marks of gangs have been something that their fellow officers in Salem and Hillsboro have had to deal with for many years.

Haggart concluded that they are primarily interested in the safety of the students. “We’re not trying to squash any religious symbols”, he said.

Discuss this in the Interfaith forums

Story link: Suspension for Teens Wearing Crucifixes

Bookmark and Share

Related stories: