JACKSONVILLE, Ill. -- Bugs Bunny and the rest of the cast of cartoon characters in the Loony Toons stable are forbidden at a central Illinois high school, out of fear they are promoting street gang activity.
New T-shirts and caps produced by Warner Brothers depict characters such as Bugs and the Tasmanian Devil dressed in backward caps, baggy pants and other items school officials said have street gang connotations.
Students at Jacksonville High School are not allowed to wear them to school.
'We have taken the posture that any clothing or apparel...that clearly identifies with a gang easily recognizable by other students is forbidden,' said principal Tom Young.
Loony Toons items were added this year to the high school's list of forbidden items, which includes jewelry, caps and bandanas.
Warner Brothers officials defend the items as merely reflecting contemporary fashion among teenagers.
'Our licensees are trying to emulate what's in and popular. These are merely characters with baseball caps backward and baggy pants and untied shoes,' said spokesman Michael Peikoff. 'These (characters) are our family jewels. We wouldn't put our characters knowingly into compromising environments.
Young was not convinced, saying 'I really personally resent a manufacturer that would generate something like that for money.'
He conceded students initially did not like the ban, complaining it was an infringement on their rights. But Young said students are complying.
'We don't want individuals wearing gang apparel that could risk their safety,' he said. 'Students do realize that.'