So Thomas Valley High School says that before it made off with Manuel Vigil’s rosaries, he was given the option of either wearing the rosary inside his shirt or taking it off altogether.
Manuel says he was never told to tuck the rosary, which he wears as a kind of necklace, inside his shirt.
The school district says that a thirteen “decade” rosary is a gang symbol.
Manuel says he had no idea. Also, one of the two rosaries that the high schooll confiscated had the traditional 10-bead decade.
Who’s telling the truth? I doubt that a 16-year-old kid who wears a rosary because it makes him feel “safe” is looking to attract a lot of negative attention by making up stories.
“They can say anything they want is disruptive. Just ‘cause they say it, doesn’t mean it’s true,” says freshman Adam. None of the students wanted to give their last names.
Vigil says how ironic he’s getting in trouble for being a good and faithful person.
“I could see if I was out doing gang activity, but I’ve never been in trouble with the law, never been in trouble at school,” says Vigil.
Oh Manuel. You will learn. You will learn.
Just like Jake Balthazor did, when his Minnesota high school told him he couldn’t wear his rosary in honor of his grandmother, who has cancer.
Jake Balthazor, 15, received the rosary as a gift from his grandmother in March, and began wearing it daily to support her health — she recently underwent breast cancer surgery.
“I feel safe, like she’s right here with me,” he told the Star-Tribune.
But school officials claim that they were told by the police that the religious beads have been used by local gangs and were recently added to a list of prohibited items in the schools.
Now what if certain gangs started making their members all wear glasses. Or carry textbooks. Or speak Latin.* You know, just to mess with school authorities. Considering that the rosary as a religious devotion predates modern teenage gangs by several centuries, you would think these authorities would want to find more sophisticated methods of detecting gang activity.
*See Anthony Burgess’s novella 1985, in which gangs teach themselves Classics as a way to revolt against a bureaucratically demented school system that has failed to provide them even a rudimentary education.