N.Y. Teen’s Rosary Labeled ‘Gang Symbol’

ALBANY, N.Y.—The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) has filed a lawsuit on behalf of an Oneida Middle School student who was suspended for wearing rosary beads to school.

School officials suspended Raymond Hosier, 13, for violating a policy banning gang-related clothing, citing that rosary beads are often worn as gang symbols. However, Hosier said the rosary was in memory of his deceased younger brother, reports USA Today.

The student was initially suspended for one week when he refused to take off the prayer beads or hide them under his shirt. When he returned back from his suspension, he refused to go to school with out the rosary and was suspended again.

The ACLJ, a subsidiary of the Christian Broadcasting Network, filed the lawsuit on behalf of Hosier and his mother against the Schenectady City School District and Oneida school officials. The lawsuit asks the court to declare the school’s dress code and the student’s suspension unconstitutional.

A judge ordered Hosier reinstated pending the June 11 hearing.

This is not the first time a student was suspended for wearing the prayer beads. In February, a 14-year-old New York student faced a one-day suspension for wearing a rosary. A Dallas student was also told to stop wearing her prayer beads in September 2008.

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