Killings lead to dress restrictions

10th September 1999 at 01:00
UNITED STATES

A MISSISSIPI school board has been forced to reverse its ban on a Jewish student wearing the Star of David around his neck, after causing a national outcry.

The Gulfport school board contended that the religious pendant worn by Ryan Green, whose mother is Christian and father Jewish, was a gang symbol.

But the board lost the case in a lawsuit filed by the boy's father and the American Civil Liberties Union.

Ryan was banned from wearing his Star of David to school because, according to the board, it would set a precedent for gang members to wear the six-pointed symbol, which they allegedly also use.

It was the latest incident involving bans on clothing, tattoos, hats,jewelry and coloured hair by US school officials worried that such fashion items may be associated with violent acts such as the shooting at Columbine high school in Littleton, Colorado.

The teenage gunmen in that incident wore black trenchcoats. Trenchcoats were almost immediately banned as a result in schools across the country. Since then, looking in any way conspicuous has been outlawed.

A Virginia student with blue hair was suspended with the explanation that "in view of the circumstances that have occurred recently, unusual activities or appearances should not be ignored".

In the Granite City schools near St Louis, students were banned from membership in hate or terrorist groups and forbidden from wearing or displaying swastikas, unnaturally dyed hair or skinhead haircuts and tattoos, or using speech or gestures connected with gangs or hate groups.

At schools outside Atlanta students must put bags in their lockers and remove them only when they leave, out of fear that they may hold drugs or weapons.

Also prohibited is baggy clothing, including trousers that touch the floor. Trousers and shirts must be worn at the "natural waistline" with long shirt-tails tucked in; trousers with belt loops must have belts.

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