ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Arlington school district has expanded its dress codes to include bans on mouth jewelry known as "grills" and the earlobe-stretching practice known as gauging.
"The district is having to respond to fads because they've become distracters or a safety hazard for those around them," said Malcolm Turner, the district's executive director of student services.
The nearby Irving, Grand Prairie and DeSoto districts also ban grills, and some also address gauging -- the process of placing increasingly large items in the ears to stretch the lobes.
But students said the body modification is simply self-expression.
"Really, a grill is just like an earring. It's fashion," said Sam Houston junior Devonte Wright, 16.
Others said it was unfair to ban such jewelry after students had purchased the expensive items, such as a $200, six-tooth white-gold diamond-cut grill. The price ranges from $180 to $3,000 at J's Grill in Arlington.
"If they bought it, they should be able to wear it," said Sam Houston senior LaVeda Antwine, 17.
But school officials said they hoped to teach students that life would require them to follow specific regulations in specific settings.
"We want to instill in them a sense of modesty and a sense of community," said school board trustee Gloria Pena. "We're preparing them for the work force, and in the work force there are rules."
I think it's amazing that teenagers have that much spare cash to drop on flashy mouth ornaments or jewelry. School districts are completely within their rights, in my opinion, to require any sort of attire austerity they believe best serves their constituents' needs.