Eighth Grader's Rosary Sparks Gang Suspicions By School

| by Sean Kelly
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An eighth grader in Farmington, New Mexico, was sent to the principal’s office and questioned about possible gang affiliations because she wore a rosary to school.

Latonyia Clah said she and her sister began wearing the Christian beads to school after receiving them as Christmas gifts. One day, she was sent to the principal’s office and questioned about her accessory.

“She asked me, 'do you know what the rosary means?' and I was like, 'yeah, it's something I believe in,’” Clah told KOB 4. “They asked me if I sell drugs because I was wearing my rosary.”

Clah says she began being sent to the office multiple times a day, and would often be asked the same questions relating to her rosary. The principal reportedly asked her about a possible gang affiliation, because many gang members reportedly wear rosaries as symbols. The school subsequently requested that Clah stop wearing the rosary on school grounds.

“It hurts inside, inside me, because they say things about my cross and my religion,” Clah said. Farmington Municipal Schools Assistant Superintendent Frank Stimac told reporters that the dress code is meant to keep students safe.

“The dress code is more, 'what is appropriate or inappropriate,' and we have come to the consensus that it is inappropriate,” Stimac said. “If [the administrator feels] like something is causing an uproar, whatever that may be, you have the right to step in and address that.”

Clah’s mother, Delphyina, said she feels her children were singled out rather than part of a school-wide effort to enforce a particular dress code.

“It really upsets me,” she said. “I don't see why they say my kids are in a gang. That's the thing is I don't understand.”

Sources: KOB 4, Albuquerque Journal

Photo Credit: Screen Capture via KOB 4, WikiHow