At my job as a substitute teacher in the Chicago Public School system, the threat of gangs taking over the school is everpresent. Subsequently, the school has been forced to enact a series of draconian policies concerning gang paraphenalia. What precisely is paraphenalia? Anything from gestures, slogans, articles of clothing, and even words written on schoolbooks. The big gangs are easy to target, but it's the smaller ones, trying to make a name, that create the problems. So we've been told, "when in doubt, turn them in, and let the Discipline office sort it out." The penalty for possession? A week's in-school suspension. Two days ago, I was walking by a male student's desk, and noticed him writing in the balloon-style so common to "taggers" (grafitti artists) and gang-bangers. I hovered over him, waiting for him to notice me, and put it away. He contined to write, carefully spelling out "L..A..T..I..." I figured I had seen enough. I called his attention to my presence, and he tried to cover up the page. "You know you're not supposed to do any gang writing on your school books." He glanced around, looking for a way out. "It's not gang writing. It's more of a...gang font." He had me there. I let him go.
(From the "Rest" of RHF)