Senior, From the Heart Christian, School, Suitland, MD
A strict school rule forced Stephen Thompson to get a haircut he didn’t want.
Thompson, 16, a junior at From the Heart Christian School in Suitland, MD feels the school’s hair rule is restrictive and limits his freedom of expression.
The school’s rule states that a male’s “hair must be no longer than the widest part of his ears and must be completely evenly shaped.” Males “are not allowed to wear twists, cornrows, or braids.”
This strict hair rule has been in place at the largely African American school for as long as vice principal, Tisa Holley, a 1999 graduate, remembers.
“It was the same when I was in school,” she said. “The hair guidelines for males and females are intended to prepare the students to be professionals in their futures. Discussions about hair regulations make me nervous for the future generations of Christian school students. There are much bigger issues that students will face in life.”
Rules about hair length in high school have been controversial for a long time. In the 1970’s, a federal appeals court in Rhode Island ruled in favor of a student who was suspended for violating a school rule banning long hair for boys. Today there are few rules about hair length in public schools, but private schools tend to be more strict.
The hair rule applies to all students at the Christian school, but girls cannot have dye and there is a hair length restriction for them.
Thompson doesn’t like the rule.
“I feel as though the hair rule is not fair and doesn’t give the males the equal opportunity of being able to grow their hair to whatever length they desire,” Thompson said. “I had to get my hair cut not because of the rule. But because the rule triggered my father to cut my hair.”
At the beginning of each school year, parents and students sign an agreement stating that they will adhere to all school policies. After seeing a general criticism of the high school boys’ hair length on a school communal website, Thompson’s father, a barber, decided to cut his hair to follow the rules.
“If there was no hair rule, my parents would let me grow my hair out, but not at any length so that I can still maintain a presentable look,” said Thompson, vice president of the high school honor society.
Holley said that there has been a history of hair issues at the school.
“Over the last three years, the girls have not had major issues instead it has been the males,” she said. “Now it seems as though the guys are trying to play ‘beat the rule’ instead of making the adjustment. It’s just hair!”
Senior, Dennis Gray, Jr., 18, is very outspoken in his opposition to the rule although he follows it.
“Guys should be able to grow their hair out as long as they want as long as it’s kept,” Gray said. “I think the hair rule is old and outdated and the times are changing so the rule should be changed to match the times.”
Nothing is likely to change because Holley believes the school’s policies should not be changed to match society’s trends.
“The ultimate goal of the school is to have a cadre of children untainted by the world’s system,” Holley said.