A Native American Child Grew Out His Hair to Honor His Heritage. His School Told Him to Cut It or He Would Be Suspended.

  • by: Care2 Team
  • recipient: Girard Unified School District Superintendent Todd Ferguson
Over the summer, a Kansas boy had a beautiful experience that would wonderfully impact and inspire him. The 8-year-old attended a youth event of the Wyandotte Nation, to which he belongs. After witnessing the rich cultural and spiritual traditions of his ancestry, he decided to grow his hair long to honor and emulate those traditions.

But shockingly, when the boy returned to his Kansas school in August, he was callously told that he had to cut his hair or be suspended from the school. This is an outrage.

Sign the petition demanding that the Superintendent of the Girard Unified School District, Todd Ferguson, issue a public apology to this boy and his family. Then, a thorough investigation must be conducted into why an exception was not made to respect this boy's culture and heritage.

It is heartbreaking to think about how this child and his family must have felt as they were told, multiple times, that their heritage and culture did not matter as much as an arbitrary dress code policy. R.V. Haderlein Elementary School, where the incident took place, does not even have a hair length policy for girls, just boys! That just goes to show how illogical and needless this decision was.

The boy's mother went so far as to go to the school in person, pleading for her son to be able to keep his hair that had become so important and precious to him and his cultural identity. She even offered to provide official documentation proving that her son belonged to the Wyandotte Nation. But none of that mattered to the officials in charge.

In September, she received an email that was the final warning -- she must cut her son's hair or have him sent away from the school. This mother was forced to make the impossible decision to cut her child's hair that weekend so that he wouldn't be barred from getting the education he deserves.

This was racially motivated discrimination, plain and simple. For so many cultures, hair is an intrinsic part of tradition and expression. We have seen time and time again that traditionally Black hairstyles, such as locs and braids, have led to school and workplace discrimination. That's how legislation like the CROWN Act has come to be -- to protect a person's right to express themselves through hair however they see fit.

This injustice happening so close to Thanksgiving is a cruel irony -- Native American land, culture, and tradition have been stolen and erased in this country for centuries. And now, this poor boy is directly enduring a similar injustice.

We must come together and tell this school that we won't stand for this type of treatment of its students. If we show them the world is watching, hopefully nothing like this will happen to another student again. Sign the petition demanding a public apology and an investigation into this injustice!
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