An 8-year-old Wyandotte Nation boy was ordered to cut his hair short by R.V. Haderlein Elementary school in Kansas’s Girard School District. His mother did so after being told by Joni Benso, assistant principal at the school, that no exemptions to male dress codes would be made for religious or tribal reasons and that “she needed to cut his hair over the weekend or he would be sent home.” The ACLU now demands that the schools rescind this policy.
His mother went to the school in September and explained that he grew out his hair for cultural reasons and offered to show documentation of his tribal affiliation. The ACLU said she was told there were no exemptions.The assistant principal then emailed the mother on a Friday, telling her she had until the following Monday to get her son’s hair cut or he would be sent home.The ACLU’s letter said the nation’s history of “multifaceted efforts to separate Native American children from their families and tribes and to deny them their rights of cultural and religious expression” makes this particularly problematic.It noted that Native American children often had their hair cut when they were placed in boarding schools, which systematically abused students to assimilate them into white society.The letter said there is no legitimate reason for imposing the requirement, noting that girls are allowed to have long hair. The policy also promotes “rigid views of gender norms and roles,” the letter said.
Interesting that ABC News didn’t name the people who ordered the child to have their hair cut or even the school itself. The ACLU (here’s its letter) and local media were more specific. A corporate accountability narrative may suit all of us, but we should generally identify public officials who are problems for some of us.