Students in Jacksonville, Fla., say they are not allowed to wear anything that honors a deceased person with the acronym for Rest In Peace, according to News4Jax.
Robert E. Lee High School attendees said there was an announcement made Wednesday morning reminding students “not to wearing anything with RIP on it.”
“It said we can’t wear them. Basically, no necklaces, none of that,” Jarod Mills, an 18-year-old senior at Robert E. Lee, told News4Jax. “They don’t feel it’s appropriate for the school.”
Mills and 18-year-old Marcus Culp, a fellow Robert E. Lee senior, told News4Jax that Wednesday’s announcement was the first time they’d heard of this rule, and they don’t agree with it.
“It’s paying respect to the person who passed away and is deceased,” Culp said. “So they shouldn’t interpret it as being anything more than paying respect for their passed loved ones.”
The school district is singing a different tune, however. Laureen Ricks, supervisor of media relations for Robert E. Lee High School’s district, Duval County Public Schools, said RIP is OK at all of their schools. “There is no rule against RIP clothing,” Ricks tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “There is a rule against gang-related activity and expression,” adding in a statement that “gang-affiliated clothing and paraphernalia is unacceptable.” Specific examples include “readily-identifiable gang colors and gang-related memorial tributes,” which are prohibited “based on best practices and insight from law enforcement regarding gang activity.”
The district told News4Jax this rule is based specifically on “guidance and insight from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.”
Ricks referred Yahoo Lifestyle to the student code of conduct, which bans “gang activity or expression,” defined as “the willful use of overt language or action indicating gang-related association.” The code of appearance does not mention gangs or RIP.
The code of conduct states, “The site administration shall be the final judge as to neatness and cleanliness of wearing apparel and whether or not such apparel is appropriate, disruptive, distracting, or in infraction of health and safety rules.”
The school district confirmed an announcement was made at Lee High but said “there hasn’t been any change in policy,” according to News4Jax.
Ricks tells Yahoo Lifestyle “there is no specific prohibition” against items that say RIP on them if it is in reference to someone like a celebrity or family member.
This news comes shortly after a teen in the same city was told by police to leave the Jacksonville Fair after he refused to tuck his memorial necklace — an homage to his late mother — under his T-shirt to conceal it. The Jacksonville Fair also said these rules came at the behest of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.
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