A Houston boy has been told he isn’t welcome at school until he cuts his long hair. His mother, however, is refusing to back down and plans to fight the school district tooth and nail.
As the Houston Chronicle reports, 4-year-old Jabez Oates and his mother, Jessica, are intensely proud of the young lad’s flowing locks. However, Barber’s Hill Independent School District, in suburban Houston, doesn’t see things that way, as Jessica found out the hard way last Friday, when she tried to take him for his first day of kindergarten.
She said she was told he couldn’t come to school, as per the school’s dress code. She said she tried again to bring him to school on Monday, this time with his hair in a bun, and was met by school officials before she even got out of her car to drop him off. There, she said, she was told that Jabez is still not welcome at the school.
The school’s dress code does make it clear that boys cannot have long hair.
“Boy’s hair will not extend below the eyebrows, below the ear lobes, or below the top of a t-shirt collar… Boys are not permitted to wear hair accessories deemed inappropriate.”
Jessica says that the school was willing to grant an exception to boys who wear their hair long for religious or cultural reasons, but she wasn’t able to use that exception to be able to allow Jabez in with his hair.
“I apologize I didn’t realize the district was going to recant it’s [sic] statement and kick my child out.”
On Tuesday, Jessica had to call in from work in order to stay home with Jabez due to the school’s third refusal to allow him inside. Jessica said that despite the difficulties, she has no intention of cutting Jabez’ hair.
“It’s not an option. It’s part of my child.”
Here is BHISD school policy and here is young Jabez Oates. Should he cut his hair or is policy, as his mom contends, “sexist and outdated”? pic.twitter.com/HuQYQwK8kN
— Tom Abrahams (@TomAbrahams13) August 21, 2017
In a Facebook update posted Tuesday, Jessica says that she had planned to attend a meeting with her son’s school’s superintendent. However, she claims, the superintendent has canceled that meeting and is refusing to meet with her.
The Barber’s Hill Independent School District, for its part, has declined requests for comment from the Chronicle.
Whether the school district’s policy is legal is unclear. As the Wall Street Journal reported in 2014, an appeals court ruled that an Indiana school committed an act of sex discrimination for kicking a high school boy off of the basketball team because of his long hair. Should Jessica hire a lawyer and take the matter to court, her attorney could cite that case as precedent, but whether a judge or jury will follow it is impossible to say.
Meanwhile, Jessica says that she and Jabez have become “pariahs” in their community and have been shunned by the townsfolk.
Do you believe Jabez should be forced to cut his hair if he wants to attend his school? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
[Featured Image by LeventKonuk/Thinkstock]