A school in Texas allegedly told a four-year-old boy with long hair that he either needs to cut it or identify as a girl. Randi Woodley, the boy’s grandmother, told KETK that the Tatum Independent School District told her that her grandson’s hair was “distracting.”
Woodley spoke to the school’s superintendent, Dr. J.P. Richardson, who said that she could either “cut it, braid it and pin it up, or put [him] in a dress and send him to school, and when prompted [he] must say he’s a girl.”
Woodley wrote about the incident in an August 12 Facebook post, beginning, “I AM NOT CUTTING HIS HAIR!!”
“I was totally confused by the word distraction…considering it’s his natural hair, no coloring, no extensions. His natural hair,” Woodley continued in the Facebook post.
KYTX shared the district’s dress code policy, which states, “Student’s hair shall be clean and well groomed at all times and shall not obstruct vision. No extreme style or color (neon, etc…) Only natural hair color shall be allowed. No symbols, letters, or extreme designs cut in the hair shall be permitted. No ponytails, ducktails, rat-tails, male bun or puffballs shall be allowed on male students. ALL male hair of any type SHALL NOT extend below the top of a t-shirt collar, as it lays naturally.”
The Facebook post prompted Woodley and her neighbors to go to a recent school board meeting, urging the board to reconsider the strict policy, which she said discriminates against Black boys. During the board meeting, Woodley said, “I will fight to get all of the rules changed. We shouldn’t even be talking about this at any age, because hair has nothing to do with learning.”
In addition to attending the board meeting, Woodley’s friend, Rachel Raye, started a Change.org petition. In the post, Raye wrote, “When will the racial discrimination and injustice towards our sons, brothers, uncles, and friends stop? Really? A four-year-old boy. We need to be his voice.”
When I’m not hanging out with my three-year-old and husband in Brooklyn, I’m busy writing stories for Mamas Uncut and managing PR + Marketing for Magnolia Bakery, based in New York City. On weekends, you can usually find me at a local park or playground pushing my daughter on the swings, “researching” the best almond croissants in Park Slope or launching into impromptu family dance parties at home, the sidewalk or, every once in awhile, a restaurant bathroom. I’m still trying to master the whole parenting thing, but I have learned that copious amounts of coffee, humor and humility are involved on a daily basis.
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