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Latino religion v. Latino education

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A bit of nonsense is being stirred up by a Latino family in Texas:

“A federal judge has ruled that a Texas school has the right to force a student to wear an ID badge, something she was refusing saying the embedded tracking device is sacrilegious to her Christian faith. 

The Tuesday ruling gave the school the right to expel or transfer 15-year-old Andrea Hernandez from the district. It said that if the girl is to stay at the school, she would be required to wear the badge. Otherwise, she would have to transfer to a new school. …

Last fall, the Northside Independent School District began experimenting with ‘locator’ chips in student ID badges on two campuses, allowing administrators to track the whereabouts of 4,200 students with GPS-like precision.

Administrators say the chips make students safer and will help boost attendance records that are used to calculate badly needed state funding.

Hernandez’s suit against Northside –the fourth-largest school district in Texas– argues that the ID rule violates her religious beliefs. Her family says the badge is satanic and a ‘mark of the beast’ that goes against their religion.”

My main gripe with the case has nothing to do with the secular arguments against surveillance and the invasion of privacy. The way I see it, a 15-year-old girl is not a consenting adult and therefore is not vested with the same level of rights that an adult is, especially rights concerning privacy. A parent may enter their child’s room whenever they want and peruse their personal items, just as a teacher or school administration can demand that a student empty their pockets, open their locker, or fork over their cell phone.

Minors enjoy a certain level of respect under the law — the rights which demand they be treated as human beings — but not much, or at least not as much as adults do.

In any case, the family isn’t arguing on the grounds of privacy. They’re saying their religion forbids little Andrea from using the tracking ID.

So, coming to what really sticks in my craw, I can’t believe that, in the year 2013, I have to read about a case in which an American family sues an American school over an ID, claiming it violates the family’s religious beliefs — their apparently literal belief in the Book of Revelation, no less. And if I weren’t embarrassed enough as an American, that the family is Latino only adds salt to the wound.

The Book of Revelation — undoubtedly the most deranged pages in already one of the most twisted, cockeyed and savage texts ever produced by our species, written near the close of the first century CE by either a brilliant allegorist or a bona fide schizophrenic living in a cave.

And now, because a couple of Latinos, touched by an angel in the head, think church is more important than school, they’re suing the educators based on something their jabbering, know-nothing pastor told them one Sunday morning. (You have never, in your life, heard of a teacher suing a preacher or a school administrator suing a religious student. Never ever.)

I understand full well the integral role superstitions play in Latino culture. My own sweet and otherwise sharp ‘ita regularly recounts to me how she once saw “una bruja” transform into an owl when she was a little girl in Honduras. I especially love the story of how her father shot and killed un chancho that was attacking him in the woods, and when he returned with his brothers to recover the body, they found a man shot dead.

Latinos seem to have a flair for the fantastical.

To Andrea, who I’m sure doesn’t want to be the center of a kerfuffle between her deranged parents and her high school, just do what all teenagers do whenever parents open their mouths. Say this: “Mom, dad, you’re embarrassing me.”

And maybe, just maybe, you should find something more useful to do with your Sunday mornings.

About Adriana Villavicencio

Dr. Adriana Villavicencio is the youngest child of Ecuadorian immigrants. She has moved 29 times in her life, taking her on a journey from California to Bangalore, India, and New York City, where she recently earned a Ph.D. in Education Leadership and works as a Research Associate at New York University. An avid traveler, Adriana has collected experiences in four different continents and 16 different countries. But as a former high school English teacher, some of her fondest memories are those of her brilliant and brilliantly funny students in Brooklyn and Oakland. Adriana has contributed to several publications including the Daily News and, and is a managing editor for the Journal of Equity in Education. She earned a B.A. in English and an M.A. in English Education at Columbia University, and currently serves on the board of Columbia’s Latino Alumni Association (LAACU). She enjoys scary movies with red vines, Sauvignon Blanc, and her Maltese dog, Napoleon.

To learn more about Adriana’s education consulting company, please visit

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.


  1. Robert says:

    My mother is Honduran and I have heard the same stories of brujas, shape shifters and duendes.

  2. Dinah says:

    David, was my statement unfair? I neither agree or disagree with the ID trackers; my point is merely that many systems designed with good intention lead to bad consequences. Would you disagree?

    And as for agreeing with the author, to each their own. I could have agreed with the author’s perspective if he had maintained a logical one without personal religious bias. If his intention wasn’t to become like the “jabbering know-nothing Pastor” he mentioned, He should’ve not become his own extremist on the other side of the argument. The article read more like a jabbering want-to-be author (with a simpleton view of an amazing piece of literature that the Bible is, outside of religious perspective) than someone with a real perspective on this issue. Just my thoughts.


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