A federal judge Friday allowed a 14-year-old Clayton High School freshman to return to classes after being suspended for wearing a small nose stud in expression of her religious beliefs.
U.S. District Judge Malcolm J. Howard granted an temporary restraining order that prevents the school from disciplining Ariana Iacono over the jewelry.
The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina had filed a lawsuit in federal court earlier this week alleging that the school violated the girl’s constitutional rights by refusing to grant a religious exemption to its dress code. Iacono and her mother belong to the little-known Church of Body Modification.
ACLU files lawsuit on behalf of CHS freshman
The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina filed a lawsuit in U.S. District court Wednesday morning on behalf of a Clayton High School freshman who has been suspended multiple times for violating Johnston County School’s policy prohibiting facial piercings.
In recent weeks, 14-year-old Ariana Iacono has been suspended by the district four times for refusing to remove or conceal a small nose stud that she says has religious significance. The school system’s dress code prohibits facial piercings but will make “reasonable accommodation” for those students who request a waiver “because of a sincerely held religious belief, cultural heritage, or medical reason.”
School officials had given Ariana the opportunity to return to Clayton High School if she concealed her nose stud with a bandage. After receiving a fourth suspension, she filed an administrative appeal which was heard on Monday. Upon returning to class earlier this week after completing a 10-day suspension, school officials informed Ariana she would serve the remainder of the school year at an alternative school, according to Katy Parker, an attorney with the ACLU.
Church of Body Modication: Statement of Faith
As followers of this faith, it is our purpose to educate and inspire, to share ideas, and to help each other achieve our dreams.
We strive to unify and strengthen our mind, body, and soul so we can overcome any challenges we may encounter. We assert and protect our rights to modify our bodies and to practice our rituals.
We believe our bodies belong only to ourselves and are a whole and integrated entity: mind, body, and soul. We maintain we have the right to alter them for spiritual and other reasons.
Affirmation of our living, breathing, physical beings is paramount to our self-identities and helps us define who we are. The Church of Body Modification promotes affirmation and growth of a more expansive perspective of our physical and spiritual being.