The last time we checked, people all over the world wear their hair in myriad styles—straight, curly, short, long, colored, braided, dreadlocked, etc.—and yet, children are inexplicably shielded from this in many schools, which continue to mandate their hairstyles. Arguably, these rules—which have, in some cases, prohibited children from attending classes or participating in extracurricular activities—are more “distracting” than the hairstyles themselves. But nevertheless, the bias persists (despite the CROWN Act gaining traction in some of America’s most populated states).
Such is the case at Michigan’s Paragon Charter Academy, where 8-year-old Marian Scott’s braided hairstyle, embellished with red hair extensions and pulled up into a bun, caused her to be excluded from participating in school picture day, WILX News 10 reports.
The little girl claims to have “cried and felt singled out” due to the school’s policy, which the principal defended. But her father, Doug Scott, argues that the issue was mishandled.
“It’s upsetting you know,” a visibly emotional Scott said. “Her hair is braided into a bun. This is uncalled for; they didn’t even call us.”
“Marian didn’t leave the house, go on the street and get this done on her own,” he added. “She’s 8 years old; we did this ourselves in our own home. There’s just no way I felt like this would happen.”
Ironically, though Marian was banned from getting her picture taken, she was allowed to return to class, raising questions over whether her hair was truly a distraction, or simply an image issue for the school.
“If they would have reached out to us and say ‘come get her, she’s got a hair issue, we need you to change it, that’s not allowed,’ I would have been fine with why this happened. But they didn’t reach out to us,” said Scott. “They let her stay in school, so if she’s not a disruption to the class, then why is she a disruption to the picture?”
Paragon principal, Ben Kriesch, told WILX “students with a hair color or style violation are given a week or so to get it corrected, which is why Marian was allowed to remain in class,” but seemingly didn’t address any disappointment or trauma experienced by the child by being excluded from participation. Additionally, prior to picture day, the school purportedly sent out a recorded message dictating the dress code, though Scott says he never received it.
“Had I seen the email, I probably would have told Marian’s mother to not do it, but I guess I think it’s good that this happened because now people are going to get the opportunity to see what is really going on,” he said.
Despite their disappointment, the Scott family has decided to keep Marian enrolled at Paragon, and she will participate in picture re-take day on Nov. 12, presumably with no embellishments in her hair. But the question remains: Is enforcing these rather arbitrary and often culturally biased rules worth humiliating young children?