SmackDown: Should Body Piercings Be Allowed in School?

Filed under: In The News, Opinions, Tween Culture, Teen Culture

Body piercings not allowed in school

Is a nose-piercing enough to get suspended from school? Credit: Christopher Healy

The School Should Stick Its Piercing Rules in a Hole.
by Jessica Samakow

You're entitled to believe anything you want, as long as we agree with your beliefs.

These might as well have been the words spoken to 14-year-old Ariana Iacono by school officials last week when they decided to suspend her for refusing to remove her nose piercing.

North Carolina's Clayton High School insists Ariana's tiny stud is a violation of the school's dress code. The pierced freshman claims her nose stud is an expression of her religion, the Church of Body Modification, which may be unfamiliar to most, but is, in fact, a federally-recognized organization.

"We believe that the mind body soul are all one entity and that by modifying the body, you can bring the mind and soul into harmony," Minister Richard Ivey tells North Carolina's ABC11, explaining the basis of his religion.

Although Clayton High School's dress policy can be adjusted upon request of a student who holds a "sincere religious belief," Ariana's request was denied because school officials deemed her piercing unnecessary, even after they researched her religion.

In defense of her decision to keep the piercing in, Ariana tells a reporter that the stud acts as a healing aide following childhood abuse.

"I was abused for years when I was younger, and I have really low self esteem, and it kind of helps me look at myself in a better way," she explains.

But frankly, giving a reason for her piercing should not even be a part of the equation. Whether or not the school understands her reasoning or sympathizes with her pain is completely irrelevant. The fact is, the piercing is a representation of her religion, and that alone should be the end of the discussion.

To be fair, there are some dress codes that make sense. When I was in high school, teachers would stop girls in the hall to assess whether their skirts reached the ends of their fingertips. If they fell short of the requirement, the girls were asked to change into their baggy gym uniform. Although a longer hem was not in style back then, that particular part of the dress code kept hormonal teens from being distracted by excess skin.

In Ariana's case, however, it's hard to believe anyone was offended by the microscopic stud in her nose. I can't think of a way it could cause any kind of distraction. If a student were to claim his religion required nipple exposure at all times, I could understand the school having an issue. But a nose piercing? Not a big deal at all. Actually, not even noticeable.

And, really, what is the difference between ear piercings and nose piercings, anyway? Why are studs in the ears acceptable, while a stud in the nose is considered inappropriate? They are mere inches away from each other. I understand that a line must be drawn somewhere, but in comparing the two piercing locations, I find no difference.

It is completely ridiculous that the school is so against a nose piercing that they are willing to compromise a student's education and religious freedom. What about real problems that are far bigger than a one centimeter nose stud? How's the drug and alcohol problem in your neck of the woods?

Stop being holier than thou, Clayton High School.

School Dress Codes Are Holy Territory.
by Elizabeth Humphrey

So what's wrong with a North Carolina school system who suspends a 14-year-old with a nose stud?

Absolutely nothing!

Last week, Clayton High School enforced its dress-code policy, which says no jewelry in the nose, tongue, lips, cheeks and eyebrows. And well they should.

While students would argue that this is a case of the freedoms of speech and religion entering school grounds, I would say that's not the case at all. If we extend that logic, then why not add in the right to bear arms for the teen set? All those no-weapons policies would go out the window. And if we allowed 14-year-olds the right to vote, we'd have Lady Gaga in the White House. (Yes, I know she's not yet 35, but the little monsters would probably repeal that rule as well.)

Schools establish policies to provide a minimally distracting learning environment for students. As a parent, I haven't always agreed with the policies, including one school's no nail-polish mandate. But each year, I dutifully read through the school handbook, sign on the dotted line and abide by the rules and regulations.

For the most part, my kids do, too. If they wear too many Silly Bandz or show too much skin, which are also against school policy, I expect them to be reprimanded.

To me, it's like being invited to friends' homes. You might not agree when they don't allow your children to eat on the couch or put their shoes all over the La-Z-Boy, but, hey, it's their rules. You're in their house and you mind your manners.

Likewise, North Carolina high-school freshman Ariana Iacono is not respecting the rules of her school.

Ariana says that the piercing is part of her religion. Her church, the Church of Body Modification, says it "strengthens the bond between mind, body and soul" through piercings, tattoos and the like. (In its frequently asked questions section, the church talks about other dubious practices that make me wince: suspension, hook pulling, binding, corsetry and firewalking.)

But who am I to say that this belief system is good or bad (wacky, perhaps). I encourage my kids to explore our religion, while learning about their own internal strengths -- through my guilt-inducing moments -- to guide them.

For her part, Ariana's mother told one reporter that the piercing is "similar to the way makeup helps many women feel more beautiful."

Okay, fine. But didn't you just say "women?" You have a child, not a woman. And just like the way makeup is not allowed in some schools, why not compromise and take out the nose stud during school hours? That way Ariana can have her piercings and her education, too. In fact, the pierced teen's church even suggests compromise in the Q&A section of its website. Clearly, they've dealt with naysayers before.

Perhaps the school and Ariana can use this as a -- dare I say it? -- teachable moment to bring about a dialogue on religious freedoms, while also addressing the reasons for school-district's dress-code policies?

How's that for piercing a hole in the notion that the generations just can't get along.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.