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Mississippi bars Jewish student from wearing Star of David pendant

WASHINGTON, Aug. 17 (JTA) — A Mississippi school board has barred a Jewish student from wearing a Star of David symbol in class. Ryan Green, a student at Harrison Central High School in southern Mississippi, wore the pendant to class last week, but school officials told him it was a gang symbol and made him remove it in accordance with school policy. The policy forbids students from wearing anything that could be construed as a gang symbol. The Harrison County School Board voted on Monday to uphold the policy, rejecting an appeal by Green’s parents, who said it was a symbol of religious expression. Law enforcement officials told the school board that such symbols could potentially make rival gang members turn violent, according to the Sun Herald, a Mississippi newspaper. “I don’t appreciate calling the Star of David a gang symbol,” Green’s father, Tom, was quoted as saying. Nathan Diament, director of the Orthodox Union’s Institute for Public Affairs, said the school board’s decision was “clearly problematic.” “On the one hand, no one would question a school’s ability to assure the safety of its students,” he said. “On the other hand, you have to be very careful where you draw the line. What would happen if he was wearing tzitzit, which goes even further than the Star of David” because it relates to a specific commandment? The Green family reportedly is considering raising the issue with the American Civil Liberties Union as a possible first step toward legal action.