By all accounts, Isaiah Freeman is an exceptional student. The 13-year-old attends a private school in Virginia, gets good grades, plays sports, and wants to be a geologist when he grows up. So when Isaiah’s principal told the teen he had to cut his locs or get a referral to the office every single day, his parents were perplexed.
You see, Isaiah’s been growing his locs since the third grade, and the entire time he’s been attending West End Christian School. But now that his hair has gotten longer, it’s a problem. School officials say the proposed discipline actions aren’t personal, but argue Isaiah’s locs violate the rules.
“The rule in our handbook states that hair length is to be no longer than the middle of the neck, halfway below the ears, and not below the eyebrows,” the school’s principal Amy Griggs said. “Even from the beginning of the school year, Isaiah’s hair has become considerably longer,” she told the NY Daily News. “This has never been about his hairstyle, only the length.”
Isaiah’s dad thinks it’s about something different, a lack of awareness.
“I think it’s a form of not being culturally aware, a form of stereotyping,” Shawn Freeman said.
To adhere to the rules on length, Isaiah’s been pulling his hair back into neat bun, but even that hasn’t made a difference.
“They won’t give me a legitimate reason why this is an issue now,” his father said.
Shawn says rather than cut his son’s hair, he’s looking for a new school for the bright young teen, who Principal Griggs admits is “exemplary.”
While we often hear about girls of color being picked on or singled out because of their hair, we rarely talk about boys (I wrote about it here).
But here’s the thing, boys need their natural hair affirmed too, especially if they choose to wear it in any other style besides keeping it cut low.
Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of books or resources that talk about the beauty of boys’ hair, which leads to policies, like the one at Isaiah’s school, that treat their hair like it’s an after thought or something that can and should be easily changed.
Has your #BrownBoyGenius experienced hair issues at school? How did you handle it?