Richard Ivey, Minister of Church of Body ModificationIn another case of, "Where do we draw the line?" a 14-year-old girl has been suspended from school because of her nose ring, which is against school policy. But it's not simply a matter of a fashion statement, Ariana Iacono says it's a religious belief.
Iacono and her mother are members of the Church of Body Modification, where they believe tattoos, piercings, and other modifications strengthen the mind, body, and soul connection.
Iacono says wearing the (tiny, stud) nose ring is part of her religious practice, and should be protected by the First Amendment. But should it?
While I think a nose piercing rule (or any fashion restriction) is ridiculous in high school, the fact is Iacono goes to a public school, and she is a minor. Religious freedom doesn't have a lot to do with the situation. In fact, you may be surprised to learn that if you're under the age of 18, you don't have as many rights as you think.
Tinker vs. Des Moines decided the rights of a school supersede the rights of a minor, and that includes what you wear and what you say. Specifically, a school administrator can restrict a student's speech or expression if he or she feels it is disruptive to the educational objectives or discipline.
Remember the Bong Hits 4 Jesus kid? His case for freedom of student speech went all the way to the Supreme Court, and he lost. Again, the courts sided with the educational institution's right to maintain an orderly environment free of goofy declarations.
Of course, cases have been won for children under the age of majority when we talk about religion specifically, as in Alaska when a group of Russian Old Believers fought to move the High School Qualifying Exam to not conflict with their Holy Week.
So yes, it's worth a fight. But traditionally, kids gotta do what the teachers tell them to do.
Do you think Ariana Iacono should be allowed to wear her nose ring?
Image via Church of Body Modification