Ariana Iacono has already missed about four weeks of school this year because of her nose ring. Sounds like a regular dress code violation and suspension, right? There's a catch.
Ariana and her mom belong to the Church of Body Modification, and that religious group believes tattoos and body piercings have spiritual meaning. Now the American Civil Liberties Union is filing a lawsuit claiming the school is violating Ariana's constitutional rights.
"This is a case about a family's right to send a 14-year-old honor student to public school without her being forced to renounce her family's religious beliefs," lawyers from the ACLU state.
Clayton High School's dress code policy prohibits facial piercings, short skirts, sagging pants, and abnormal hair color. But there is a loop hole in the rules. The dress code allows an exemption for religious beliefs and states, "The principal or designees shall not attempt to determine whether the religious beliefs are valid, but only whether they are central to religious doctrine and sincerely held."
Ariana's mom Nikki remarked, "We followed all the rules, so I don't understand why the school is being so unreasonable. The dress code policy allows for a religious exemption, and I explained to the principal and various school officials how my daughter's nose stud is essential to the expression of our family's religious values."