Local News

ACLU files lawsuit on behalf of nose-pierced teen

Posted October 6, 2010
Updated October 8, 2010

— The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina Legal Foundation filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday on behalf of a Clayton High School student suspended because of her pierced nose.

Ariana Iacono, 14, has been suspended from Clayton High since last month.

Iacono and her mother belong to a religious group called the Church of Body Modification. The school says her nose stud violates the dress code, but the ACLU believes the Iaconos’ rights are being violated by the policy.

"I realize everyone thinks she can take the nose stud out and go, but in America, we do not make people sacrifice religion to get an education," ACLU attorney Jon Sasser said.

Johnston County school officials denied Iacono's appeal of her suspension on Tuesday. The decision means she won't be allowed to return to Clayton High for the remainder of the school year.

Instead, she will be sent to South Campus Community High School, according to the lawsuit.

Iacono was suspended four different times this school year for wearing the nose stud at school.

"The dress code policy allows for a religious exemption, and I explained to the principal and various school officials how my daughter’s nose stud is essential to the expression of our family’s religious values," the teen's mother, Nikki Iacono, said in a statement. "Ariana had gotten excellent grades in middle school, but now she is in danger of flunking out of her freshman year of high school because the principal won't let her back in class unless she removes her nose stud or covers it up, which is asking her to hide her religion."

The Church of Body Modification has 3,500 members in the U.S., according to the lawsuit. It was incorporated in Pennsylvania in July 2008.

Iacono pierced her nose in August to join the church.

The lawsuit seeks a court order allowing Iacono to return to Clayton High immediately, to be allowed to make up the work she has missed, and to suffer no further consequences for having the piercing.


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  • JustOneGodLessThanU Oct 8, 2010

    Deathrow, so you think that Christians, who are 75% of the population, can’t “express their religious beliefs at school”? Really?! You’re the martyr majority?? Who is no longer allowed to do what, exactly?

    Well, I know what you want...what you’re actually griping about. You want to “express your religious beliefs” by having the complete and undivided attention of impressionable (and captive!) children in public (tax payer) school, so you can force Christianity onto them.

    And, you’re just mad because the Supreme Court no longer allows you to do this.

    THAT’S the real reason you claim to be “oppressed”...because your SPECIAL RIGHTS have come to an end and you’re now finally held to the same rules as everyone else. Poor you.

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Oct 8, 2010

    affirmativediversity, your list of Christian “oppressions” is a farce. Everything you mention is either untrue or some form of public “look at me” behavior that disrupts the school. If the school drama team “broke out into spontaneous singing of Oliver!”, they too would be stopped...for the same reason Christians would for carols.

    Again...can you not see the difference to private, personal things (like quietly praying at your desk before the class bell rings) and things like Christian prayer over the school loudspeaker or in large prayer groups blocking the halls at the school entrance?

    Besides, is it too much to ask Christians like you to actually follow your own Bible? Are you aware that public prayer goes against Jesus when, during his Sermon on the Mount speech in Matt 6:5-6, he said NOT to pray in public, “like the hypocrites do to be seen of men”, but in private?

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Oct 8, 2010

    If you don't abide by [rules], then you don't get certain things.” -- leo-nc

    I guess you didn’t see my Rosa Parks post? You remember her?

    Ms. Parks refused to “abide by the rules”, broke the law in fact, by not sitting in the "colored section in the back of the bus".

    Whatchathink about that?

  • charlotte2 Oct 8, 2010

    Sorry to see school has no rules!! Anything goes for letting a child with a nose piercing back into school, what next? People follow their belief which is the same as we must follow rules!!!! God is not tollerated in school, why must rules be broken for her religion to be tolerated?

  • sixnitepkg Oct 8, 2010

    hmmm... the aforementioned "Johnston County School officials" AND the ACLU should be more concerned with PUBLIC, GOVERNMENT FUNDED schools having the Gideon's handing out out bibles to middle and elementary schoolers during school hours - in DIRECT VIOLATION of THE FIRST AMENDMENT! and multiple federal court rulings that SPECIFICALLY describe this as a violation of said First Amendment!!!!

  • laxmom516 Oct 8, 2010

    It states that she is a member of the Church of Body Modification. It would be interesting to know how often she has attended services.

  • ght001 Oct 7, 2010

    Either way, the school has rules that everybody has to follow. Even if she feels like she is worshiping by piercing, she has to follow the rules like everyone else.

  • flyingcheetah92 Oct 7, 2010

    ght001: I think that you are trying to make what you believe the same thing that everyone else does. Which is unsurprising because lots of people on here do the same thing. The fact remains though that just because you do not see it as a testament of her faith does not mean that she feels the same way and the little thing that our country is based on (the constitution) says that she is entitled to that belief

  • ght001 Oct 7, 2010

    This girl is a loser just trying to get attention. Piercing yourself is not a 'testament' in any way. She needs to go to school and go by the rules just like everyone else. If she wants special treatment, she should go to private school.

  • ndzapruder Oct 7, 2010

    Meanwhile, the ACLU threatens a lawsuit against the town of King, NC, for flying a Christian flag over a veteran's memorial. Rather than devastate their coffers by spending 6 figures to fight it, they pulled down the flag (to much local protest) and the ACLU's "good fight" claims another head.

    In contrast, here we have a nonsensical new-age religion (not that any of the canonized faiths are any less full of dogmatic rubbish, mind you) that some hormonal attention-seeking teen, knowing full well that piercings violate the dress code--and likely relishing that knowledge--insists on practicing in a *public* (read: state-funded) school and the ACLU sues on HER behalf.

    Unless the ACLU starts injecting some temperance into selecting which political skirmishes it wants to enter, it risks completely de-legitimizing itself a la PETA. Although to many, I'm sure it already has.