Kicked out over nose ring, Indian-American teen back in school

By Arun Kumar, IANS,

Washington: An Indian-American girl kicked out of her school in Utah state for wearing a traditional nose ring is back in her class after she exchanged it for an almost invisible transparent stud.

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School authorities at the Bountiful Junior High School agreed to accept the stud after their action caused a minor storm with an Indian American group alleging that the school was denying the teenager’s right to express her religious and cultural identity.

Born to an American mother and an Indian Sikh father, Suzannah Pabla was sent home in mid-October when she wore the nose ring, a local TV report said.

While school officials said it was simply an even-handed application of school dress code, Pabla’s mother Shirley alleged racial discrimination.

Suzannah’s parents divorced and her father moved out of state. She sometimes worships as a Mormon, sometimes in her father’s Sikh faith.

Before the issue was resolved, authorities said they consulted the Religious Roundtable of Salt Lake.

“What they told us is it’s cultural, it isn’t a religious tenet. And that part of the Hindu culture is that a nose ring like this signifies someone’s been married,” Davis School District spokesman Chris Williams Williams said.

Leaders of the Indian-American community said the student was apparently honouring the tradition of her father by putting a stud in her pierced nose. They demanded that the school admit its mistake, reinstate and apologise to Pabla and her parents.

A spokesman of the Davis County School District, which administers the school, admitted that Bounty Junior High had a stricter dress code than the district norm.

“I wanted to be like more of half my culture,” Suzannah Pabla was quoted as saying by KSL-TV. Her mother, Shirley, said: “She’s just embracing her heritage. I want her to.

“Every school has their prerogative, as long as it’s more, in addition to our district dress policy,” Shirley said. “It’s her dad’s religious thing, it’s you know, come on!”