Friday, December 18, 2009

Should Long Hair Keep a Boy Out of School?

The Mesquite Independent School District in Texas thinks so.

By now, you may have heard the story of four-year-old Taylor Pugh, a pre-kindergartener whose hair covers his eyes and sweeps his collar, in direct violation of the school district's dress code.

Of course, Taylor didn't grow his hair long simply to piss off the school. Taylor is 4 and acts of teenage rebellion aren't even on his radar. Heck, he's barely passed out of his toddler rebellion stage.

According to some reports, Taylor plans to eventually donate his hair to a charity that makes wigs for cancer patients. Other reports say that he has Native American ancestors. If either (or both) reports are true, I'd say the boy has a pretty strong case for letting his hair grow.

Not that he needs an excuse. As far as I'm concerned, what he does with his hair is his business. (Unless, of course, he's shaking it directly in someone else's face, or depositing it in his teacher's food. Then, he's clearly crossed the line.)

But the Mesquite Independent School District believes that "students who dress and groom themselves neatly, and in an acceptable and appropriate manner, are more likely to become constructive members of the society in which we live."

I'm not sure I buy that argument, but in this case, my opinion doesn't count. Because of the school district's stance, 4-year-old Taylor has been in in-school suspension for the last month. He receives his 2 1/2 hours of instruction a day in the library, with an aide, instead of in the classroom with his peers.

Some will argue that 4 is a perfectly acceptable age to learn that there are rules in the world, and that we all must follow rules. Some will argue that his parents are doing more harm than good by supporting their son, instead of the school.

Others think it's much ado about nothing. After all, it's just hair. It's not like he drew a picture of Jesus on the cross.

What do you think? Why?


  1. Interesting. My 4 year old son has longish hair (definitely sweeps his collar and falls in his eyes, even after a trip to the barber this week). My husband and I would stand by his right to wear his hair long if his school ever gave him issue about it (he attends preschool twice a week at a Baptist church, but will be homeschooled starting next year).

    I am a teacher by trade and would venture to guess that the school district is once again stepping outside it's realm of decision and sticking it's nose where it doesn't belong. If the student wasn't wearing his uniform (assuming they have uniforms), coming to school with dangerous objects, or arriving to school and his appearance showed evidence of neglect, then the school district could step in. I have a feeling this issue will fall in the student/parents favor when it is all sorted out.

  2. Wow, too funny! Is that even legal? I mean really, we are talking about public school, right? I guess we would be WAY out of line there!

  3. The reasons for wearng his hair long are interesting but, ultimately, irrelevant. But, Mindy is right. None of the district's business. Can't say I'm shocked to learn that the restrictive school district is located in Texas.

    Explain to me how the in-school suspension is an example of a conservative, hands-off, small government approach.

  4. I think the school district has no right to punish the child for not cutting his hair. I might buy that "extreme" hair styles (12in mohawks?) or non-traditional hair color (pink, blue, green?) would not be much in the spirit of decorum and thus be distracting, but forcing short hair on a boy is no different than forcing long hair on a girl, and I don't see them doing that!

  5. As the mother of three boys, one with short hair, a two-year-old with mother-imposed long curls (he's my last baby and the curls will be gone once they're cut, sniff) and an eleven-year-old with shaggy, longer hair (bane of my existence), I have long ago decided to choose my battles, and hair is not one of them. I much prefer to worry about and work on "the biggies" and I wonder if the schools would not be wise to do the same. Is everyone so well-adjusted, scholastically outstanding and properly nourished and cared for at home that hair is the last bastion? That would be so nice, especially in this holiday season in the midst of a recession. Peace on earth.

  6. You all have great comments, but I have to say this is my favorite:
    "Is everyone so well-adjusted, scholastically outstanding and properly nourished and cared for at home that hair is the last bastion?" (Thanks, A Homeschool Story!)

  7. i remember the battle my mother fought for my brother back in the late '80s when he got his ear pierced. "it could be a gang sign," administrators said. mom politely told the principal that as soon as he told her what gang a gold ball stud represented, she would remove the earring. the very next year it was in the dress code that boys could not wear earrings. my brother was 6.

    this little boy obviously has a heart of gold based on the possibility of donating it to cancer patients. do we want to destroy the compassion he has for others at such a young age? is it a mess on top of his head? are bugs crawling out of it? i doubt it. and unless it is, i don't think the school district has a say in what he does with his hair! in the work world, there are enough dress codes. but for now, can't we just let this kid be a kid? and if he is of native american heritage, i believe it is illegal for them to hold him out of class. it would be interesting to find out for sure! but no matter what the reasoning is for having long hair, that the worst thing that's happening in the school?

  8. I may have heard the story of four-year-old Taylor Pugh, a pre-kindergartener whose hair covers his eyes and sweeps his collar, in direct violation of the school district's dress code.

  9. My 14 year old homeschooled teen has long hair. He was reading the highschool dress code.
    Boys cannnot have long hair and go to the local school. He said that it seems like school is more about learning complete submission to authority than about education. He's decided to homeschool for high school.

  10. I can understand how a school, even a public school can require you to come to school everyday with a uniform on, or them deciding not to let you wear drug promoting clothing, at that point you can live with not expressing your self for a few hours every day because you know when you get home at the end of the day you can always wear what ever you want, assuming your parents wont stop you, but hair length being an issue? As an 18 year old male with hair that waves its way to my mid back I know how much it can actually mean to someone to actually be able to have there long hair. Its not like you can go home and wear your hair. In this specific case the only reasoning the school would even decide to have a problem with hair is for the sole purpose of having kids subdue to any rule they desire to throw at them for the schools amusement. In the real world the only reason you would have to cut your hair is if your job requires such action and at that point you can either cut you hair or not have a job, but when it comes down to your education, the building blocks to anyone’s successful future, the school has no right to demand you to cut your hair. This school is obviously abusing there power and playing judge. Also growing your hair out to donate is one of the most thoughtful gifts to give to someone with cancer and coming from a 4 year old it is an even bigger. I am behind Taylor 110% and hope for the best for him!

  11. Incredible that this is even an issue in the 21st century.

    "In the first place, God created idiots. That was for practice. Then He created school boards." -Mark Twain

    I've seen VERY little in my 52 years on this planet to belie the above quote.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Zorba! Your timing was actually pretty funny, b/c I was just talking about a friend about wanting to run to school board. ;)

      I love your website, BTW. I took 2 bellydance classes this year and had a great time!