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Texas Gives Long-Haired Boy a Compromise: Braids

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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