ELMIRA, N.Y. (AP) _ A high school junior was removed from school after she went to class with packaged condoms decorating her clothing and hair.

Thursa Hargrove, 16, said she wore the prophylactics as both a statement for safe sex and fashion.

''It was a fashion statement at first, but there are a lot of teen-agers out there that are embarrassed about them,'' said Hargrove, who is the mother of an 18-month-old son.

''People need them and shouldn't be embarrassed by them,'' she said.

But officials at the Elmira Free Academy, a public school, said she took the message too far.

''When you get a girl or boy sitting in the classroom wearing a condom in their hair, it's distracting to the other students,'' said principal Joseph Nikiel.

School officials removed Hargrove from her math class Friday after she refused to remove the dozen individually packaged condoms. She said her 14- year-old sister also wore condoms to school, but removed them rather than be disciplined.

Hargove said she was told she could be suspended if she wears the condoms to class Monday. She said she hadn't decided what to do.

Student reaction was mixed.

''I think she had the right to say what she wanted to say. It was a good idea to get the word around about AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases,'' said Clyde Schuyler, 18, a junior.

''I would say that it's very disruptive,'' said freshman Anna Bacom, 15. ''I don't agree with what she did. I think the school had a right to be angry.''

One of Hargrove's supporters is her mother, Katherine Taylor.

''I back my children when they're right, and I don't think it's offensive,'' she said.