JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Students at Robert E. Lee High School were reminded Wednesday that they’re not allowed to wear anything with “RIP" on it.
When News4Jax asked why, the school district referenced its dress code policy, saying, "Gang-affiliated clothing and paraphernalia is unacceptable. Specific examples -- including readily-identifiable gang colors and gang-related memorial tributes -- are prohibited."
This comes after News4Jax reported last week that a sign reading, "If you are wearing memorial clothing or jewelry you will be denied entry," was posted outside a gate at the Greater Jacksonville Agricultural Fair. Fair officials said the rule was posted for safety reasons.
RIP, or rest in peace, is commonly found on gravestones, even T-shirts, as a way people choose to honor and remember loved ones who have passed.
Students at Lee High School on Jacksonville's Westside told News4Jax that there was an announcement made Wednesday morning to remind students not to wearing anything with RIP on it.
"It said we can't wear them. Basically, no necklaces, none of that," said 18-year-old Jarod Mills, a senior at Lee. "They don't feel it's appropriate for the school."
According to Duval County Public Schools, gang-related colors or signs are not allowed on students' clothing at Lee or any school. The district said that's based on guidance and insight from the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.
Mills and a fellow senior, 18-year-old Marcus Culp, said they hadn’t heard much about the rule until Wednesday, and they don’t agree with it.
"It's paying respect to the person who passed away and is deceased," Culp said. "So they shouldn’t interpret it as being anything more than paying respect for their passed loved ones."
The school district confirmed an announcement was made at Lee High but said there hasn’t been any change in policy.
The district reminded that punishment for violating dress code is not suspension and that the school always does what they can to help students stay in compliance. If parents have questions about a certain part of their child’s wardrobe, they're asked to contact the school.