A Florida high school student says he was suspended for two days this week after administrators claimed his Catholic rosary was “gang related.”
Christopher Roberts, an attendee at Gateway Charter High School, reportedly refused to remove the item from around his neck after being confronted by school officials.
“It’s not happening. I’m not going to take it off,” Christopher recounted to NBC 2. “Do I look like a gang member to you? Do I look like somebody who runs around with tattoos and guns and sells drugs? No, I’m doing it strictly for my faith.”
Christopher’s mother, Shannon, says her son’s connection to the rosary began after she took him in several months prior and introduced him to Catholicism.
“He came from a difficult background, and when children come from difficult backgrounds, they cling to faith,” she said.
Although she agreed that her son could have been more “diplomatic” with school staff, Shannon says she supports her son’s decision.
“I am proud of him. Yes, I think he could’ve been a little more diplomatic, but yes, I am proud of him,” she said.
In response to the controversy, representatives at Gateway Charter denied Christopher was asked to remove the rosary over alleged connections to criminal street gangs and instead pointed to the school’s dress code.
According to the Lee County Public School Code of Conduct, which makes no specific mention of rosaries, jewelry that may cause “injury,” as well as any “apparel or symbols that may be gang-related,” is strictly forbidden.