Administrators at a South Dakota high school told 14-year-old freshman Braxton Schafer’s parents on Friday that he must cut his hair or leave the school.
Braxton, who is Black, wears his hair in traditional African twists known as locs. The length of his hair hasn’t been an issue before, his mother Toni Schafer told The Argus Leader on Sunday. He has been in the Bishop O’Gorman Catholic Schools system since sixth grade, first attending St. Mary for sixth grade, then grades seven and eight at the junior high school.
The current uniform code specifies that boys’ hair length must be above the collar.
“We don’t necessarily agree with the rule,” Derrick Schafer, Braxton’s father and Toni’s husband, said. “We think it’s culturally biased.”
School policy dictates the length of students’ hair, not the style or culture, Bishop O’Gorman Catholic Schools president Kyle Groos told the Argus Leader on Saturday.
“Can students wear dreadlocks? Yes, they can,” Groos said. “We simply want the length of the hair to be at the collar or right above the collar. Right there is what we ask for. To be clean, neat and well-cared for.”
Chloe Goldade, public information officer for the Bishop O’Gorman Catholic Schools system, said Braxton was among “upwards of about 20 male students asked to comply” with the policy since Aug. 18.
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SOURCE: USA Today; Sioux Falls Argus Leader, Morgan Matzen