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12‐Year‐Old Florida Girl Told to Cut Natural Hair or Face Expulsion from Christian School

Avatar • Nov 27, 2013

Ladies, I have to admit, it is disheartening to publish another piece like this. Just months after an Ohio school banned afro puffs and 7‐year‐old Tiana Parker faced constant harassment from school administrators for her locs, another eeriely similar situation has unfolded in Orlando, Florida. After notifying the administrators at Faith Christian Academy that she was being bullied for hair, the school essentially sided with the bullies, telling 12‐year‐old Vanessa VanDyke to either cut and shape her hair or face expulsion. Since this story broke yesterday the school has backpedaled saying in a statement;

We are not asking her to put products in her hair or to cut her hair. We are asking her to style her hair within the guidelines according to the school handbook.”

The handbook does not list afros as a banned style.

The original report is below:

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Ladies, what are your thoughts?

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Poshnera
Guest
Poshnera

I hope this family continues to fight for this child to express who she is. As we all know when someone is attacked it usually means they are doing too well and it is a method to bring them down. No wonder there are children who are bullies, the adults are just as bad and teaching them this awful behavior.

ema
Guest
ema

Exactly. I mean how cruel from the school administration to dont punish the bullies, but the victim. The school administration is just showing that they accept the bullies and the reason why they bullied her. Instead of teaching them bullies to have understanding and tolerance for people who look different and have different hair. Its so sad, that such things still happen.

Aya
Guest
Aya

Its just plan ridicilous! Know one is going to dictate how my child is going to wear there natural hair. Fifty years plus they may have gotten away with this madness. But not today. I hope her parents do not let this pass by.

sb
Guest
sb

i think her hair is lovely. I know some aren’t going to like this : maybe she could bun it for school?

Sosobim
Guest
Sosobim

I totally agree. Another child sitting behind her may be unable to see the board or whatevers going on. I grew up in Jamaica. When i was going to school there were guidelines for wearing hair and even caucasian types or indians had to secure their hair. I think a bun or plaits/twists/braid would be okay.

Stace
Guest
Stace

plaits twist and braids might be a “distraction” as the school handbook terms it also…so who knows…yea the bun might work. She said she was wearing her hair like that for the past year. I wonder how she was wearing it before?

JENNID
Guest
JENNID

I agree that the girl should just bun it back. I would be upset if they said to straighten it, asking her to tone it down is fair. Her mother needs to have a talk with school administrators about natural hair care, culture and styles Since the school is predominantly white. I would only make it a big deal AFTER having that conversation. Sometimes people need to be schooled a bit so a common ground can be found. No child should get kicked out of school because their natural hair is misunderstood.

MommieDearest
Guest
MommieDearest

I get what you’re saying, but I don’t agree. If a little white girl can wear her long hair flowing and free in the way that it naturally grows from her scalp, then why can’t Vanessa? (And something tells me that if an Irish little girl with red frizzy hair, green eyes and freckles reported being teased, the administration would handle that situation very differently.) If the school thinks that Vanessa’s long hair is a “distraction” and must be contained, the fine. Just change the rules to explicitly state that ALL girls with long hair must secure their hair. While… Read more »

Oops
Guest
Oops

Because Vanessa’s hair gets in the way of other students. I mean, really? Why are some side stepping the obvious in the need to be PC? Her hair isn’t just long but wide and big. I have a huge BAA but don’t wear it to the movies because I know it will be a distraction and block others. Recognizing differences is a‐okay no matter what the police PC say. IA with everything else you said, however.

MommieDearest
Guest
MommieDearest

I’ve read several articles related to this story and there is no evidence that her hair was obstructing the view of other students in class. If that were the case, don’t you think the administrators would have said that initially to bolster their case against her? Her hair did not become a “distraction” until she reported being teased about it. Instead of dealing with the bad behavior, the administration took the easy way out and blamed the victim and required HER to change. That is unacceptable.

Kristel
Guest

This is just terrible! I dont think you should forbid a girl for wearing her hair just the way it grows out of her head and that is what is happening here. Her hair may be a “distraction” but that is because people still need to get used to black people wearing their hair natural. Those people still see straight hair as the standard norm. This girl isnt wearing her hair like this to make a statement or to be different. This hair is just like how a white girl would wear her straight hair loose. So why is this… Read more »

Federico Lambea Osuna
Guest
Federico Lambea Osuna

I signed before against this kind of punishment for nothing. Let the children be happy. There are more important problems! I stand with Her!

Youngin girl
Guest
Youngin girl

I seen this on the news yesterday. My Mom and Uncle have been watching the news all day yesterday and I finally caught on to it at the right time. I thought this wouldn’t be on here but I agree, It’s wrong to tell a girl how to do her hair in a negative way. With all of the issues in today’s society, why are they focusing on her hair? Let her wear it fluffed out. She said (I quote) “They just want it straight.” She said she likes it fluffed out like that. I thought it was cute. She… Read more »

Realist
Guest
Realist

If this was a public school then I would say what the H#@@, but unfortunately it is a private school. As such the school can make whatever rules they want, it is in the Constitution. Her parents chose to send her to the academy for their own reasons so they must now obey the rules of the school. It would be the same as telling Spelman College to admit men.

HeyThere
Guest
HeyThere

Discrimination on the basis of race is not allowed anywhere. I hope her parents sue.

Elle
Guest
Elle

Private schools, just like private business establishments, don’t get an exemption from discrimination laws harassment suits in the United States.

Private institutions, whether most know it or not, do receive public funds and subsidies. Spelman, just like this academy, is subject to the laws of the nation and both are also privy to litigation.

ChanChan
Guest
ChanChan

Florida is a scary place smh

Stace
Guest
Stace

Firstly, this is a Christian school and the emphasis should of been on the bullying. The Christian faith is supposed to have children act as an example of God. Instead of that issue they go the the girl. If this was not an issue after the school began, it should not be an issue now. All schools will have their issues but as a school of faith, this should of been handled differently. God makes us all different and that is her natural hair and should not have to alter it to please the behaviors not pleasing to God. I… Read more »

Stace
Guest
Stace

Hey how do they allow both of us to use the same name on here?

realist2
Guest
realist2

You guys really beed to suck it up. Everything is not about white people being out to get you. I’m sure there is a reason why they wanted her to do something else with. 1. Its probably distracting , I’m sure the kids get really distracted and want to touch it or mess with it. 2.It could be too big and be blocking the view of others in the classroom. Also its a lot of hair and its put so im sure it sheds everywhere. There are many reasons why they may want it to be styled differently. Yes racism… Read more »

realist2
Guest
realist2

And it probably doesn’t list afros in the handbook because most kids who attend the school are probably white , got a perm, or don’t wear they hair out

The truth
Guest
The truth

Your comment highlights your white privilege and ignorance. Only an ignorant person would be distracted by a black person’s hair. If the kids werent so ignorant and had greater exposure to black people, they wouldn’t view her hair as something abnormal or exotic. The way my hair grows out of my head is how it grows. I see white student go to school with unnatural colors in their hair( pinks and purples) and they are allowed to do so. Some even go as far as wearing locs knowing well that the grease that their hair produces does not allow for… Read more »

realist2
Guest
realist2

Please tell me what white privilege and ognotance. As a black natural who comes from the hood with a single mother, what priveledge do i have. My opinion is not ignorance its based off experience. Im in high school and everybody always touch my hair and pulls on it etc. mind you most of these,ppl are black kids,who see only weaves and perms. So if the ppl who are the same as me are distracted andintrigued by of course whites,whos hair is usually not,similar at all will feel the same. And now you want to question my blackness because im… Read more »

realist2
Guest
realist2

And how,is a childs fault that they havent seen natural hair. Whether or not they are surrounded by blacks is not their problem, fault, nor interest

Baby steps
Guest
Baby steps

I understand that there are still many who are not use to seeing afro textured hair in all its glory and that’s okay, but it is about principle. There is no excuse to tease, judge, criticize, discriminate and bully just because something or something is different. The root of the problem is the mentality of these children who are bullying and the adults who are blaming the hair style as cause of distraction. One day, it will be universally normally to see black people wear their hair as is, the way it grows bushy, frizzy, poofy, up and out of… Read more »

Baby steps
Guest
Baby steps

*something or someone*

* Also, I meant to say that it wouldn’t hurt for her to wear her hair in a bun or braids once in while………..

Roberta
Guest
Roberta

mods, can we get this troll comment deleted please?

realist2
Guest
realist2

So im not allowed to speak my mind now because every one hates to hear another opinion

sincereluv4life
Guest
sincereluv4life

I’m a Christian woman & when I first read this a couple days ago I was so ashamed that this was a Christian academy that was involved in this foolishness — I mean really, the Bible was the first proponent for natural hair, it’s even mentioned quite a few times that Jesus had “woolly” hair. Stories like this just let me know that going natural is not just something we’re doing for our own self acceptance, but it’s for the next generation as well.

Black Lady's Opinion
Guest
Black Lady's Opinion

Ok.. Listen here, first it is a private school, second that hair is way distracting meaning who can see around in the classroom? It would be wrong to put her in the back of the class no wouldn’t it? second lets talk about the distraction. It wasn’t an issue until she complained about being teased= distraction.. Third Comb you fkng HAIR!!! it looks like a giant mess. YOu can keep it natural, put it in a pony tail or something? Braid it or something.. Come really what is this fight about?

MommieDearest
Guest
MommieDearest

“second lets talk about the distraction. It wasn’t an issue until she complained about being teased= distraction.” So you’re saying that the only reason Vanessa was being teased about her hair is because it was a distraction and thus it’s her fault? With that logic, then if a person is being teased because of the color of their skin it’s because their skin is a “distraction” so it’s their own fault. “Third Comb you fkng HAIR!!! it looks like a giant mess.s ” Big frizzy curls can look like a giant mess, but as I stated upthread, if this were… Read more »

Sopleased
Guest
Sopleased

This had to be mystifying for this child — being told very ugly things from what SHOULD BE level headed, reasonable adults. What’s particularly sickening is that there are people who expect this to be something that the little girl, her parents and others should accept as a reasonable position on the part of the school? Total theater of the absurd.

Elle
Guest
Elle

Be gone TROLL! Your powers do not work here!

Ariel
Guest
Ariel

Tuh a “Christian” academy… uumm “Come as you are”„, I promise Christianity is being tainted more and more everyday. I pretty sure God won’t tell the young lady “Oh I’m sorry„ You must tame and shape your hair before entering into Heaven”„, sigh„ I really hope that she get through this!

momofIV
Guest
momofIV

If white girls can wear their hair down, then so should black girls…there shouldn’t be a racial preference going on here especially at a Christian school. For those kids that tease her, well maybe they need to learn more about Christian behavior and loving others as themselves. The school should send out letters to the parents to let them know their children behave poorly.…they should be the ones to go.

Lisa
Guest
Lisa

I attended a boarding school (in Jamaica) when I was younger that had students from all races and backgrounds, and hair from dead straight to Afros (it was in the ’70’s). The rule about hair was straight forward: Long hair must be tied back. And we conformed. Girls wore big Afros and it was never an issue. Fancy hairstyles, nail polish and anything that was contrary to the uniform code was saved for weekends. The teaching staff were all British, and maintained discipline but were great fun to interact with. Having come from a Catholic prep school which was repressive… Read more »

Néhémie
Guest
Néhémie

OK don’t crucify me for this but I too went to Christian/catholic schools as a child and her hair STYLE would have been a “distraction” for my schools as well. From my understanding, no one is telling her to get a relaxer. It is a “distraction” to other students because she STANDS OUT and most, if not all of the private schools wear UNIFORMS for the same reason; to look the same. Imagine sitting behind this student in class if she likes the front row seat lol. In all seriousness, it is a private school after all and we have… Read more »

jojo
Guest
jojo

and that little girl has such beautiful hair..its a pity

Jesse
Guest
Jesse

I see that others have suggested that she ought to put her hair in a bun. However, do white girls with long straight hair have to put it in a bun too? Just because straight hair has no volume, doesn’t mean our natural volume is bad and needs taming. If white girls have to tie their hair in a bun, then I could see them making the same suggestion for this young girl. This story may sound discouraging, but think what would happen if this situation took place 10 years ago. The girl would have just permed her hair. This… Read more »

AnonSince87
Guest
AnonSince87

I may be alone in this, but I too think her hair should be styled differently for everyday wear at school. I worked in a primary school (ages 4–11); children are MESSY! They’re rough in the playground, in the classroom, not to mention the activities — P.E, painting, drama etc. In my personal opinion, it doesn’t make sense to have such big (fragile) hair out like this for everyday wear at school. It’s not practical for that age group. Where I worked, there were no set ‘rules’ as such, but I remember the class teacher telling the girls with long… Read more »

Djanira
Guest
Djanira

After watching the news clip it appears the school has given her an ultimatum after speaking out about the bullying. The core of the problem are the bullies, not her hair.

Suzan, UK
Guest
Suzan, UK

The only issue here is bulling which the school appears not to want to address.….…

nisha
Guest
nisha

Update: according to CurlyNikki, the school has rescinded its demand that she cut or alter her hair. They only want her to keep it ‘tame’ (in braids, buns, etc.). It seems like the backlash got to them. The issues, however, is still bullying.

Gina
Guest
Gina

tame’ her hair. Wow.

Joan D
Guest
Joan D

Tame her hair! That’s a lot of nerve. We have to continue to tell our young girls that their hair is absolutely beautiful and be proud to wear it naturally. I’m all for natural hair.

Cece
Guest
Cece

They only want her to keep it ‘tame’ (in braids, buns, etc.).”

Are they stupid? That should be a discrimination lawsuit right there.

Cece
Guest
Cece

I wish someone would tell me to “tame” my hair; merely for not being straight. I really wish some white person would tell me I need to bun or braid my hair; when all the white and asian women can do what they please with their own hair.

Their ass would be in court so fast, they wouldn’t know what to do!

Kim
Guest
Kim

I agree. White people have no business telling blacks to put braids in their hair. WTF? Black people I can understand, but white people need to keep their noses out of people’s ass. They have no business complaining or giving suggestions about a black women’s hair. It is racist and awkward to say the least and entirely inappropriate! This poor child is going to be so confused, probably thinking wearing her hair the way it naturally is should be praised and enlightening. Only to get this sort of reaction. Even our own people, instead of being proud of her talk… Read more »

Tabatha
Guest
Tabatha

She doesn’t seem confused at all to me. She likes her big hair and she is keeping it that way. I love that her parents are 100% behind her. I think the school tried to do a happy medium and failed horribly.

Lacie Mand
Guest
Lacie Mand

Tame her hair? Tame the ignorance! I’m sure her grades are higher than the kids that are “focused” on her hair. If a black person with natural hair treats their hair the same as a white person’s, the white person’s hair will be fine, thin and straight, while the black person’s will be a huge afro! For the school to ask her to tame it implies she just let’s it go all wild and doesn’t care, but in reality what they are saying is like asking a black person to make their skin lighter. She has every right to be… Read more »

Sammy
Guest
Sammy

Is it sad that I am not surprised by this? 🙁

Djanira
Guest
Djanira

MSNBC wrote an article on it also, apparently expulsion is off the table.
http://www.msnbc.com/the-last-word/school-backs-natural-hair-threat

linda
Guest
linda

This is a sad story and we all need to focus on what is important here: a young girl being bullied for wearing her hair in its natural state. Humans beings are afraid of things or people that are different from what they are accustomed to until they understand it or them. We must not forget that we are in a school and wearing your hair in an afro can be distracting for any children sitting right behind it whether black or not. Let’s take one minute and imagine another black kid coming back from school and complaining about not… Read more »

Tabatha
Guest
Tabatha

Well Put. I had a white girl in my Second grade class that used to do creative things in her hair and it was a distraction and the principle just told her that she was only allowed to put in maybe 2 decorative statements. He didn’t mention anything about her being expelled. I mean let me tell you she was big into Cindy Lauper if that give s you an idea of what her hair could have looked like. To tell the truth kids are going to find anything a distraction. The thing that bothers me is that they sided… Read more »

Cece
Guest
Cece

I would be pissed off if someone told me how to style my hair, talking to me like I’m stupid, unless there were some kind of rules that were directed at everyone regardless of race or hair texture. It is perverted and just plain weird, and entirely too intrusive. I wear my hair however I want, if I want to bun it I will when I want, if I want braids (which I never would because they pull to much on the follicle and just don’t look good imo) I will put my hair in braids when I want not… Read more »

Jumoké
Guest
Jumoké

I understand where a lot of you are coming from but I still think most of it’s bs. For one, some of you who are defending the bullies and saying it is okay that she got bullied are very sad. Also, if her hair was such a distraction, why didn’t anyone politely asked her to pull her hair down or switch seats? I believe it’s the same issue if a person was incredibly tall. Yes, hair and height are different but when looked at that perspective, it’s more understandable. What her mother said was correct, “what’s a distraction for one… Read more »

Tabatha
Guest
Tabatha

If I was a child I would ask the principle to expel all of the bullies cause their bullying is a distraction to me, and its an unhealthy learning environment.

TijerasGirl
Guest
TijerasGirl

Bull$&#^!
What’s next — do I have to tease and blow dry my way too straight hair to go to that school??? It’s the way her hair grows, it’s not a “statement” — it’s just her natural hair. WTF???

Nina
Guest
Nina

This child’s hair looks fine, it looks healthy and well taken care of. It does not look unkempt, it’s not too dramatic. I honestly think the only reason some of you are saying that is because it’s an all natural afro and not manipulated in any way. Very, very, sad that most of you natural women cannot even accept our hair without gobs of curly pudding and definition in it. It is a part of who she is. I know my hair does not hold twisted or braided styles very well while tending to frizz out and look “messy”. I’m… Read more »

Tisha
Guest
Tisha

I think that young lady’s hair looks quite beautiful and she is a cutie. These rules that schools make up are sometimes unclear and they use “loopholes” to ban styles that they find shocking. I remember my mom used to braid my own hair when I was in school and but the braids in a ponytail or bun. I remember getting complaints b/c may hair was “distracting” and there were too many braids. (apparently they only allowed a maximum of 3 braids but that was not clearly specified in the dress code)…My mom had to continually go and see the… Read more »

Cece
Guest
Cece

I’m offended by the comments telling this little girl she should braid or bun her hair. I hate ghetto looking braids and my head is way too big for an updo to ever be a cute look or be comfortable for me. I’m mixed with white; and I prefer my hair out. I feel most confident with my hair that way and has made me the successful person I am today. I don’t wear braids in my hair; I can’t relate to it. Some white women prefer to wear ponytails while others always wear their hair out, why can’t black… Read more »

Jailyn
Guest
Jailyn

Hello! I’m happy to hear that you have found confidence and success by expressing yourself and wearing your hair the way you do. We should all strive to become confident in who we are without compromising. My only concern is the use of ghetto to describe the style of braids. While they might now work for you, I have seen them work for countless other women while still looking elegant, classy, and professional. I just don’t understand the need to put down another woman’s choice of style or expression.

Tabatha
Guest
Tabatha

So the volume of her hair won’t be tolerated, but the bullying is?! Screw it the parents need to pull her and move her to a school that doesn’t have such stupid hair rules. That is ridiculous. I think her hair is fine. I know that schools want children’s hair to be presentable, but come on, its not like creatures are nesting in her hair!

Jalynn
Guest
Jalynn

I really hate my school because students in my school ALWAYS have to talk some type of crap about black women’s hair, saying that they all wear weave saying we all have short hair saying that our hair is ugly, but you know, high school is bleeh 😛 But this is completely different. I feel so bad for this girl AND that 7 year old too! She or ANY black girl should go through this! How is bullying okay but her NATURAL HAIR isnt?! This is just messed up. Smh. I pray this girl finds a better school. Naw she… Read more »

Jalynn
Guest
Jalynn

She or any black girl SHOULDNT go through this ***

My apoligy on typo

hairstyle
Guest

Another ask.fm suicide

CHRISTOPHER CARR
Guest
CHRISTOPHER CARR

her hair is her beauty, if she need to cut her hair to fit in, then she dont need to be in that school am sure there are otheR great school out there that will accept her for who she is.

healthy
Guest

Thanks for the good writeup. It if truth be told used to be a amusement account it. Glance complex to far introduced agreeable from you! By the way, how can we keep in touch?

Clairce
Guest
Clairce

How can a “Christian” academy want to suspend a girl who keeps her body the way the lord intended it? More proof of the ignorance and intolerance of Christian people. If it is a distraction, why not teach the other children(and obviously the staff) to be respectful? What happen to promoting individuality and being yourself? I applaud this young lady for standing up for what is right!! I see nothing wrong with her hair. She is a beautiful girl with a gorgeous head of hair. Too bad the school are too blind and ignorant to see that. I can’t believe… Read more »

Jesse
Guest
Jesse

Exactly. They would expel an honor student over her looks. The school is sending a message that they are intolerant towards people based solely off of appearance. That is extremely shallow. Plus, they don’t address the real issue here–bullying. Instead, they justify bullying. Being harassed by your peers is a distraction not natural hair.

urbanoaf
Guest

disgraceful!the girl clearly has very naturally beautiful hair and her school should be encouraging the fact that she does not want to change who she is by straightening it and has the confidence to wear it like that {to wear your beautiful natural hair out these days is almost frowned upon}learn how to keep yours like that here:http://urbanoaf30.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/mantaining-natural-black-hair.html

jessybabe
Guest

Soooo.…what about the bullying?

Vanessa
Guest
Vanessa

1. Her family should stopy paying their hard earned money to send that beautiful girl to that school.
2. If a white girl grows her hair long and leaves it out without styling, or with a small barrette, it’s ok with everyone. Therefore it should also be ok for a black girl to do the same.
Peace.

CHELSEA
Guest
CHELSEA

I’m sick and tired of this back of the bus treatment for our natural hair. Her hair is the way it is because of her race! A white girls hair is perfectly acceptable in it’s natural state, an afro is a black girls hair in it’s natural unaltered state. The fact that this school would rather side with a bunch of bullies and racists speaks volumes! The ignorant hooligans ganging up against this sweet, innocent young girl are the one’s who need to be shamed, not her! The ignorance is infuriating! That this is even legal is staggering! I hope… Read more »

Michelle Jones
Guest
Michelle Jones

wow, what a shame, and from christians too. what a shame for them to treat this young lady in such a way as to want her to change her natural hair and how the Lord made her. I think she should stand her ground and leave if necessary. they are wrong and unbibical and definitely not showing christian character. all i can say is what a shame. that’s why our culture and race is trying to fight it’s way back up to love who we are and how the Lord made us.

Phillia
Guest
Phillia

Same thing happened at my high school. They said to the girls who came with afros to school, to have hairstyles that follow the shape of their head or else they basically sit in the discipline office for the whole day until they “fixed” it. In elementary school they were going to ban dread locks — some kids dreads were already long and the school wanted to instill those ‘rules’ but the people (we) won. It happens everywhere — I’m in South Africa

michelle
Guest
michelle

Is this another black run school? I saw the news clip updating the school’s change in decision that let Vanessa return to school with her same hair, supposedly to show the bullies that if the school “can accept Vanessa” they can too?!?!? What a cruel joke. This school is a joke and the whole thing is ridiculous! Her mother should absolutely have her pulled, she can’t be getting a quality education in a school run by those clowns! The men who talked on behalf of the school were black men. Honestly, I’m sick and tired of these ignorant black men… Read more »

Etain
Guest
Etain

That is Soooooooo rong! That is her natural hair. How could they expel her just because her hair is that way? And this is a supposed to be a Christian school?
[img]https://bglh-marketplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/r169_457x256_14267_Red_2d_portrait_girl_woman_red_hair_curly_redhead_picture_image_digital_art.jpg[/img]

Nancy
Guest
Nancy

Her hair is not distracting, Only ignorance would lead someone to come to such a belief. The only thing distracting about it is it’s beauty, and that merits expulsion? She has some beautiful hair, it’s puffy instead of kinky because she is mixed.

trackback

[…] 12‐year‐old girl who complained to school administrators that she was being teased for her hair was told to cut it or face expulsion. All these incidents had us asking — does American culture pressure black women to believe […]

tonya fleming
Guest
tonya fleming

i dont see them telling them white girls to cut off their locks, thats some bullshit

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