The Phoenix Flyer

NAACP calls on Florida to take action against schools that ban discriminatory hairstyles

By: - October 11, 2018 12:29 pm

The NAACP Legal Defense Fund is calling for the state to rescind discriminatory student hair policies, following the uproar over a 6-year-old boy who was turned away from a Florida private school in August.

The child was wearing dreadlocks.

The organization sent a letter to the Florida Department of Education earlier this month, “asking it to take action against schools that ban students from sporting dreadlocks, braids and other traditionally African-American hairstyles,” according to HuffPost.

The media outlet referenced schools participating in Florida’s new Hope Scholarship Program, which provides publicly-financed scholarships to students who have been bullied, attacked or otherwise harmed, and can transfer to another private or public school.

“However, many of the schools that participate in this program either ban LGBTQ students or have strict hair policies that disproportionately affect African-American students,” the HuffPost reported.

The 6-year-old boy was attempting to enroll in a Christian academy in Florida that doesn’t participate in the Hope Scholarship Program but does participate in other Florida voucher programs, according to HuffPost.

Such voucher programs ban discrimination based on race, but hair policies  “can perpetuate a more subtle type of discrimination,” according to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund letter obtained by HuffPost.

The letter also calls for creating new hair policies, with the help of community members, and cultural competency training for school faculty and staff.

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Diane Rado
Diane Rado

Diane Rado has covered state and local government and public schools in six states over some 30 years, focusing on policy and investigative stories as well as legislative and political reporting. She spent most of her career at the St. Petersburg (Tampa Bay) Times and the Chicago Tribune. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and did a fellowship in education reform at the University of Michigan in 1999-2000. She is married to a journalist and has three adult children.