Oklahoma School that Criticized Girl’s Dreadlocks Changes Its Policy

September 11, 2013  |  

Last week, 7-year-old Tiana Parker’s story broke our hearts. The private school told Tiana, in her second year at the school this fall, that her dreadlocks went against school policy and were a “distraction”. Now, Deborah Brown Community School has removed the ban on dreadlocks and afros, says the Huffington Post.

The Tulsa, Oklahoma school had long had a ban on “hairstyles such as dreadlocks, afros, mohawks, and other faddish styles” on the books, but only just began really enforcing it. Parents at the school, which is almost all black, had long been complaining via its Facebook page about the hair portion of the dress code. The parents’ complaints plus the media attention the school received brought the school’s dress code up for a vote on Monday night. The board decided to strike the ban on specific hairstyles, and even removed all mention of hair altogether from the handbook. Now, the rules say parents and children are responsible for hygiene and the school reserves the right to contact parents about hygiene issues. The Parkers weren’t present at the school board meeting.

School board president Kenneth James said the intent was never to offend or humiliate Tiana and her parents; the ban on afros and dreadlocks was simply because of “health and safety concerns”. A statement released by the Parkers says there’s nothing that can “change the fact that our 7-year-old daughter Tiana was made to feel that there was something wrong with her appearance, in turn coming home in tears.”

The school board did the right thing in getting rid of its discriminatory hairstyle policy, but it’s too little, too late. A little girl was told the way she is wasn’t acceptable and that she and her hair were inherently dirty.

Do you think what the school board did was enough?

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