Five-year-old Ethan Clos was suspended last Wednesday from Reid Primary and Middle School for having a “disruptive” hairstyle.
Here is his disruptive hairstyle:
Here is what their school handbook says for their hairstyle code:
“Hair shall be worn above the eyebrows and must be kept clean, neat and trimmed”…“Hair styling or coloring arrangements which are disruptive or distracting are not permissible.”
According to Ethan’s mom, he had been asking her repeatedly for a mohawk, and she allowed him to get it over spring break. When he returned to school, the administration suspended Ethan, saying, “Our dress and grooming policies are designed to ensure that clothing and hairstyles do not cause a distraction to the learning environment.”
I have a few thoughts about this. Since this was a public school, I’m a bit more critical because this mother may have no other option for school. Homeschooling and private school might not be feasible.
What upsets me is that these parents are not able to allow their child to both express himself in a way that the family agrees is acceptable and healthy, and also receive an education.
It can be argued that this is a legitimate distraction in the classroom, but God forbid a child with a congenital difference walks in and the children are transfixed on that. In a healthy environment, children should be able to express themselves and their creativity, understand their bodies are THEIRS, and that differences are present and positive and not a big deal. The fact that they made this rule and all the children appear similar is why this mohawk was that big of a distraction (if they weren’t exaggerating, which is also possible).
I know some parents prefer a strict dress code for their children, the private school I attended had one, but the nearby public school did not. To me, that is somewhat reasonable, except when the parents who would like a strict dress code cannot afford to send their child to private school (which is a whole other issue I could go on about…)
However, in this situation, I believe that we should err on the side of choice. Do not repress people’s creativity for another’s comfort. Are there studies coming out saying children will not learn if they have mohawks or creative hairstyles? Until a study comes out telling me it is harmful, I am going with the Marie Antoinette answer, “Let them eat cake!” (and wear mohawks…preferably blue ones with purple sparkles!)