Have a look at that kid over on the right. Awww, ain’t he cute? But would you believe that, at only four years old, he’s the worst trouble-maker ever seen in his pre-school? So bad is Taylor Pugh that he has to be segregated from the rest of his class all day long since November, being taught by a teacher’s aide alone in the library of Floyd Elementary School in Dallas. His crime? The boy’s hair is too long (if you’re waiting for more, I’m afraid that’s it). You know, I considered writing this up in December when I first heard about it but I assumed it was just a one off incident with an over-zealous teacher and didn’t look into it further. Now I’ve found out that it’s still going on and actually backed by the school board, and I’m livid.
The district dress code states that boys hair must be kept out of their eyes and can’t extend below the bottom of the ears or past the collar of a shirt. “Hairstyles designed to attract attention to the individual or to disrupt the orderly conduct of the classroom or campus is not permitted.”, the policy states. “Students who dress and groom themselves neatly, and in an acceptable and appropriate manner, are more likely to become constructive members ot the society in which we live.” Yeah, but only if you live in Stepford. In the rest of the world a policy like that only serves to destroy any form of individualism and reinforce bigotry. These children are being taught during a critical development stage that they’re only worth anything to the world if they fit in (an attitude that is one of the main causes of rising self image problems in children) and that anyone who doesn’t fit in is out to cause trouble. It doesn’t take a genius to see just how damaging the lessons taught by this policy can be to the worldview of a developing mind.
Taylor’s mother Elizabeth has attempted to compromise with the school board by tying his hair back into a ponytail, but this wasn’t good enough for the school and poor Taylor was sent straight to the library again. A closed to the public meeting of the school board on Monday resulted in them offering their own compromise – Taylor’s hair can’t go below the ears but he’ll be allowed to wear it tightly braided in order to make it shorter when in school. This time it was Elizabeth who wasn’t happy with the compromise, reasoning that the child’s scalp may bleed and his hair may break if it’s braided like that. She and her husband are considering appealing to the State Board of Education or taking the district to court. As a man with hair currently down to my waist I’m totally behind them in their battle. As a man who has been at the top of his profession I’m living proof of how ridiculous the argument for enforcing this policy is. And finally, as a man with more than a shred of common sense, I can see just how much this policy is corrupting the minds of these poor children, whether they’re victimised by it like Taylor or simply being taught that being different is wrong and needs to be punished.