Helen Lines, Pope Paul Catholic Primary School’s head teacher, recently sent a letter home to an 11-year-old male student informing his parents that his ponytail hairstyle is associated with drug-taking and requesting that the boy refrain from wearing that hairstyle in the future. Though the boy’s mother, Mandy Head, told Jonathan Vernon-Smith of the JVS Show on the BBC that she did not allow her son to return to the Potters Bar school with his ponytail hairstyle, she was still offended by the head teacher’s letter.
The radio show host openly admitted that he fully supports dress codes and the boy’s mother said that she would make her son conform to any dress codes, but said that there is no stipulation against boys wearing ponytails in the dress code.
It all started after Mandy’s son Joe wore a small ponytail hairstyle to school one Monday morning.
His mother asked him why he had chosen the hairstyle, and he told her it was the hairstyle of a sports figure. She asked him if he was worried that other boys would laugh at him, and he said that he was not.
“And that was it,” Mandy said. “I didn’t think it was offensive at all.”
Mandy said that she was told by one of the school girls that during an assembly, all of the girls were told that they should wear their hair in pony tails if it is long enough and that that goes for boys too. Nevertheless, on Tuesday, the 11-year-old came home with a letter from the head teacher at Pope Paul Catholic Primary School.
The radio show host said he had never seen the boy’s hair cut associated with drug-taking. On social media, neither the mother’s friends, nor the boy’s 23-year-old brother’s friends have any clue where the idea that this hairstyle is associated with drug-taking came from.
“First of all, I thought it was a ridiculous statement that we did find it funny,” but she said that afterwards she became really upset. Her voice quivered as she explained, “I was – became really upset that she could associate drug taking and my 11-year-old son in the same letter.”
Mandy took to the BBC radio show to find out if her son’s hairstyle is really associated with drug-taking because she suspects that the head teacher is really only upset that her son was showing individuality. She doesn’t think that the request was fair. She said her son is a “very individual child” who likes to style his hair in various ways. She feels that the letter was sent home, because the head teacher just wants Joe to conform and he is very confident. She said that Joe has his own sense of style, which is something she feels the school frowns upon.
Mandy feels like the letter was offensive to her family, because it insinuates that he was striving to look like a drug user. The radio show host read aloud the message sent to the show by the head teacher at the school regarding the hairstyle.
“The school sent a polite request to Joseph’s parents regarding his appearance at school. I’m sorry if this has caused any unintended upset and will be happy to discuss it with the family.”
Joe’s mother said that she wouldn’t have cared if the school simply requested that he refrain from wearing his hair that way. She was disturbed that her son’s hairstyle was linked to using drugs in the letter that was sent home with him instead of what she feels was the real purpose of the request: To suppress the boy’s individuality.
On the BBC’s Facebook page, the opinions are divided. Many think that Mandy is making a big deal out of nothing and that she should have just called the head teacher before taking to social media over the request to change her son’s hairstyle. Some are irritated that a head teacher could believe that there is a hairstyle that could pinpoint drug-taking in the first place.
“‘Learning in the light of Christ’? Didn’t he have long hair too? So what was Christ taking,” one Facebook user asked.
Another Facebook user joked, “Sorry headteacher but your surname is inappropriate as it relates to drug taking.”
What do you think? Is Joe’s hairstyle one that screams drug-taking or not, and should he be allowed to wear it at the Catholic school since there is reportedly no formal rule against it?
Boy, 11, told by school not to wear ponytail because style is ‘linked with drug-taking’ bad call by head teacher http://t.co/2s9WmJCPql
— Sam the Westie (@samthewestie) March 3, 2015
[Photo via Facebook]