Guest blogger Ronda Kaysen: Here's a new one: A North Carolina teenager sued her high school for violating her religious rights when they told her to take her nose stud out.
Ariana Iacono, 14, claims to be a member of the Church of Body Modification and says that having jewelry in her nose is central to her religion. And here I thought Tea Party darling Christine O'Donnell was the only person proclaiming obscure religious affiliations!
If you're wondering if the "Church of Body Modification" is a legitimate church, you're not the only one. In fact, the second question on the Church's FAQ webpage is, "Is the Church real?" The short answer is yes: The Church is recognized by the federal government as a tax-exempt nonprofit, just like the Catholic Church. "Practicing body modification and engaging in body-manipulation rituals strengthens the bond between mind, body and soul," reads the website. "By doing so, we ensure that we live as spiritually complete and healthy individuals."
Iacono says she was abused as a child, and that the jewelry improves her self-esteem. "It kind of helps me look at myself in a better way," she told reporters. Her parents contacted the American Civil Liberties Union to help them with their case.
My question is, why is Iacono's school telling her she can't have a nose stud in the first place? Isn't that a decision the 14-year-old should make with her parents? After all, nose jewelry is legal. It's her body. Iacono's argument for keeping the stud seems like a bit of a stretch, but what would the school have done if she'd gotten a tattoo? They couldn't exactly have asked her to remove that!