Horizon Science Academy in Ohio recently released their school policy on dress code. See the letter to parents below and the outline of their dress code policy. It states that afro puffs and ‘small twisted braids’ are against school policy. It’s clear that this policy directly addresses the parents of African American girls in the school. It is effectively banning these girls from wearing the equivalent of a ponytail for afro textured hair, or one of the most convenient protective styles. So what is the alternative? This reinforces the myth that straight, relaxed or pressed hair is superior to curly, kinky afro textured hair. In 2013, the misconception of natural afro hair being unkempt still exists. In recent years there has been a 30 per cent increase in the number of African American women wearing their hair natural. The sale of relaxers has decreased also. However clearly, there is still a long way to go before attitudes towards natural hair improve both in the black community and outside.
This story is nothing new, last year Hampton University in Virginia banned braids and dreadlocks in their dress code. But what is particularly upsetting about this story is that it involves young girls of school age. They are already facing discrimination and being singled out for leaving their hair natural and not succumbing to chemical relaxers or pressing irons at such a young age. This policy reinforces the idea that to be taken seriously and to be seen as professional, your hair must be straight. It’s interesting that one of the reasons cited for the policy was to: diminish economic and social barriers between students. Well Horizon Science Academy, African American girls should not have to wear their hair straight to fit in with the other students in the school. Wearing their hair in braids or simply putting their hair up in puff does not create social barriers. A negative attitude towards others who are different and discrimination creates social barriers. Also, singling out African American girls for the way they wear their natural hair doesn’t increase ‘a sense of belonging or pride’ for their school.
Chemically relaxing or constantly flat ironing a young girl’s hair isn’t healthy. The school’s policy is conflicting as it requests that hair must ‘look natural’. Making it harder for black girls to wear their hair in its natural state (by banning the main styling options) is simply discrimination. It would be just like banning ‘straight ponytails’. It’s ridiculous and unnecessary.
Please note that Horizon Science Academy is reviewing their dress code policy since being made aware of the reaction to it from the natural hair community. Check out their Facebook page:
Check out the letter from Horizon School, addressing their ‘draft’ policy.
What do you think about this story? Share your thoughts below.