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Texas Gives Long-Haired Boy a Compromise: Braids

By bethanysanders |

untitled3The saga of Taylor Pugh – a.k.a. Tator Tot — and his long locks isn’t over yet.  The Mesquite School district offered Taylor’s parents what they thought was a decent compromise:  Tightly braid Taylor’s hair so that it doesn’t touch his collar or cover his ears, and he can come back to school.

His parents said no.  “If I braid his hair, his scalp will bleed and his hair will break,” said his mother, Elizabeth Taylor, who has offered to put Taylor’s hair up in a ponytail while he’s at school.

It’s an odd compromise, I think. According to Yahoo News, the school district dress code says that:

Fads in hairstyles “designed to attract attention to the individual or to disrupt the orderly conduct of the classroom or campus is not permitted.”

How is Taylor’s hair less distracting in a ponytail than in would be bound up in several tight, tiny braids? In fact, in Taylor’s case, I’d argue that it might be more distracting. I’d even bet that, by now, that the educational process of the Mesquite kindergartners has been interrupted more by this argument than they ever were by Taylor’s hair.

A friend of mine found the last post about Taylor interesting and posted it on her Facebook page. She got a lot of comments on it, including one I found interesting: “This is NOT a long hair issue! School has rules… students must follow the rules… don’t like the rules?… Change schools or work within the system to get them changed… otherwise, pay the consequences for not following the rules.”

She’s right — this is not an issue about long hair, it’s an issue of control. Who gets to decide what your child looks like? School’s often decide what kids get to wear; even the most liberal school district has some sort of dress code, after all. But hair, to me, feels far more personal. A pony tail and braids would both serve the same purpose: Get the hair up and out of Taylor’s face. But the school district’s message is loud and clear — it’s our way or the highway.

What do you think Taylor’s parents should do?

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21 thoughts on “Texas Gives Long-Haired Boy a Compromise: Braids

  1. LolaLane says:

    My youngest son looks adorable with his long wavy locks…however this is just lucky. He has a MAJOR fit if we try to cut his hair. This is one 4 year old who will. not. be. happy come kindergarten enrollment time.

  2. Featherenmama says:

    Even though I think a little boy with very long hair looks silly, I would defend any parents and/or childs right to wear their hair long. As long as it doesn’t interfere with his or other students’ learning, who cares?

  3. Arrow Tech IV says:

    He’s four, right? That means that he is not in regular kindergarten, but in prekindergarten. I say this as the parent of a child also in the DFW area attending a public school for prekindergarten. You do not attend kindergarten until after age four. We also do not have “public” prekindergarten. This child is either receiving services because his parents pay tuition to the school, because of the hardship/financial state of his parents, or because he has been identified as having a disability. The prekindergartens in the DFW area are very strict, primarily because they deal with so many different kinds of students functioning at different levels. Lice outbreaks are fairly rare, because the school attempts to deal with hair issues promptly. School drop-offs and pick-ups run like CLOCKWORK (most young children are tagged with identifying information and dropped off and picked up in lines just outside the school, since there is not enough parking for all the parents). I say all of this to make the point that this IS about the rules. These parents have to follow the school’s rules. Their child does not care about his hair that much; the parents care. If he was autistic, like my son is suspected to be, maybe this would be a bigger issue for the kid, but this seems to be more about the parents’ rights than the school environment. The child is young. Cut his hair and then send him back to pre-k.

  4. ashLee says:

    It’s quite amusing how the parents stood up for their kid’s long locks. But often, when our kids turn into teens particularly for boys, we scold them a lot whenever they grow their hair long. Well, at least, I knew of friends who during their teens once often scolded by their parents for sporting long hair.

    Life Like Dolls

  5. Bec says:

    I do think it’s a hair issue, though, because of the gender bias. The school doesn’t mandate that ALL CHILDREN have short hair, do they? Unless you can assure me that all the girls are sporting tight braids, I’ll still be seeing it as a problem.

    Rules are great, and people have to abide by them it’s true. But rules shouldn’t be discriminatory or gender-biased. We’ve been over this, people.

  6. GP says:

    His hair doesn’t really look long enough to braid. Can’t they claim some religious bullshit like people who won’t vax their kids do?

  7. John Foster says:

    Comments He should pull out a dollar bill and point to George Washington’s haircut and say “Is it ok if I keep my hair like his?”

  8. Arrow Tech IV: There’s some confusion, because the original news story said he was in kindergarten, though now he’s being reported as being a preschooler. Either way, though, the lice defense is a poor one. Plenty of girls have long hair. Thanks for commenting!

  9. jeannesager says:

    I can see making him keep the hair out of his eyes simply so he can see the board – but a ponytail, clips, braids – it shouldn’t matter how the family decides to keep it out of his eyes simply because he’s male! Girls use any of those methods and no one bats an eye.

  10. MJ CAMPBELL says:

    I don’t see why this little boy should have to braid his hair or keep it cut unless it is affecting the study habits of himself or his classmates. He is in PreSchool afterall, Head Start via a public school. Our HeadStart in the area surrounding Centeral Mississippi had no strict rules as such.
    Back to the dress code, so if this 4yr old has to have his hair cut, is it because he is a BOY, that is descrmination. How many little girls have long flowing locks and are not requiered to keep it up in ponytails or Braided like an Africian-Americian’s hair? From what I saw on the news, the photos look as if they are strictly pointing out the Male Gender.
    There is a much deeper issue here than what the school is letting on. I hope that his parents continue to go toe to toe with this public school.
    I know I have gone around more times than I can remember with my childrens principals, and I come out on top every time!
    I believe that there are more important issues to look at than a little boys hair.

  11. michelle says:

    Texas has some of the worst schools in the nation. It figures that they would be so focused on enforcing arbitrary rules that have nothing to do with education. They should be ashamed. I think these parents’ best revenge is to get their son a scholarship to a good private school, where he can keep his hair AND actually get a decent education.

  12. [...] Texas Gives Long-Haired Boy a Compromise: Braids [...]

  13. [...] Texas Gives Long-Haired Boy a Compromise: Braids [...]

  14. [...] Texas Gives Long-Haired Boy a Compromise: Braids [...]

  15. [...] Texas Gives Long-Haired Boy a Compromise: Braids [...]

  16. [...] Texas Gives Long-Haired Boy a Compromise: Braids [...]

  17. [...] a little boy is banned from even attending school because his hair is too long, and now this? The Los Angeles Times reports the lawsuit [...]

  18. John Faragher says:

    ask the school why girls can have long hair but boys cant
    then tell them it is discriminating to your son

  19. shermaine says:

    I dont think that his hair should be a factor in school,little girls have long hair so whats the differences? He should be able to wear his hair how he like it.

  20. k_saw says:

    CommentsThe only reason the school is doing this is because of control over the students. My 7 year old son is in elementary school and the dress code states that no hair past the collar of the shirt and I asked why. I was given this BS answer “because it is a distraction of the other students and prevents them from learning to there full potential.” A distraction? The hair is not what causes the distraction it is the people who enforce a rule past the extremes that make the situation a distraction.

  21. mohawkvalleyfineartscom says:

    Comments: I pose two questions: first, why is it that every aspect of Native American culture (viz., long-hair, “mohawks,” etc.) are immediately equated with the idea of being “inappropriate,” “unproductive,” or “evil”? Secondly, how is it that we believe the government(viz., the school board) should regulate our affairs so closely as to count the very hairs on our heads?
    Conservative communities are forever stressing the importance of the “authority of the home”; it appears, however, such “parental authority” is nonexistent when it conflicts with the values of the greater “community.” Last year, I had a Cherokee family visit my Studio-Gallery. Their elementary-aged son had hair a foot or so below his waist. Both he & they had no problem with this: his hair had never been touched by the ‘white-man’s’ shears. Whether the Pughs are Native or not is irrelevant. It is the parents who are the primary “authority” in these matters. Besides, Native American mores are not necessarily “bad.” Our society would do well with less of the “white man’s” proclivity toward “ethnic cleansing.” (And as for their policies against “bullying”– maybe the school board should practice what they preach.)

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