Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Stubborn dress codes

These stories are ridiculous. I don't know what has become of them, but I do hope that they have been allowed to return to school.

Eyeliner = Witchcraft & Devil Worship

Sunday August 31, 2008

Thanks to reader Christine in West Virginia for sending this one along. In an move oddly reminiscent of last year's Florida goth wear debacle, a high school principal has suspended four teenage boys for violating the dress code by wearing eyeliner. I kid you not. Eyeliner.

The students, who all attend Hedgesville High School, were told by the principal that eyeliner on males is a symbol of "gangs, violence and drug use." In fact, principal Don Dellinger said that certain markings done with eyeliner actually represent "satanic worship, witchcraft or gang membership," or at least, that's what the school policy says. One has to wonder who exactly wrote the school policy, and if it was laid out maybe a hundred years ago.

Derek Rose, one of the suspended students, likes to wear red and black eyeliner. His mom, Sharon Carpenter-Rose, says she doesn't get why this is even an issue. "You know, it's eyeliner," she said. "I wear eyeliner. It doesn't make any sense to me." In fact, there's nothing in the school policy about makeup at all, and no girls have been suspended for wearing eyeliner. Derek and the other three boys say they'll continue to wear eyeliner, even though they've been sent home from school.

Hedgesville High School seems to have a pretty good track record - they recently won an award for academic achievement, and their demographic information indicates that they're slightly above the state average when it comes to graduation rates. It would be a shame to see something as ridiculous as an eyeliner rule bring division to this school and community.

Do students need to have a good environment to learn in? Yes. Are some things disruptive? Yes. Is eyeliner on a sixteen year old boy something worth suspending him over? Not hardly. I doubt that there are other kids saying, "I can't focus in math class because Derek's eyeliner is distracting me." Don't get me wrong, I'm all in favor of enforcing a dress code when it's needed. But this is not only silly, but it's also inconsistent. Girls can wear eyeliner but boys can't. If you're going to ban makeup because it's distracting to others (whatever the heck that means), then ban it for everyone. Don't go and make up some piddly excuse about how eyeliner means you have "satanic worship and witchcraft" in the school. Then again, that brings us to another point -- if you have Satanists and witches in your school, guess what? They're allowed to be Satanists and witches, and they're entitled to an education too.

I went to high school in the early and mid-90s. During that time, there were quite a few guys who were into the whole goth scene. They had eyeliner and black nail polish...the whole sh-bang. Nothing was said back then, other than some funny looks. Granted, that was a different time, but it still doesn't change the fact this is one of the stupidest things I've ever heard in my life. Why can't a student be allowed to wear eyeliner? I know it's not the most normal thing in the word, but it is a form of expression. Saying they can't wear eyeliner, in my opinion, is like telling us we can't blog.

I would imagine there are a few devil worshippers in that mix, but not all of them. That would be lumping them all together in one big group. It's like saying all white people that live in the south are member of the KKK. This school board needs to calm down, let the kids go back to school and forget this ever happened. It would be a whole lot less of a headache.

As if that wasn't bad enough, read this one:

The mother of a 14-year-old high school student wants her son back at school after he was suspended for long hair that doesn't comply with the dress code.

Claudius Benson, a ninth grader at Old Redford Academy in southwest Detroit, hasn't had a haircut in 10 years because of his religious beliefs.

"This is not about a haircut, it's about our deeply held spiritual beliefs," Alecha Benson, Claudius' mother, told FOX "These are strongly held religious beliefs that we have had in practice for much of my son's life."

The school won't allow a religious exemption that would permit Benson to return to school.

"Right now, my son is really anxious to return to school," Alecha Benson said.

Claudius Benson's hair has not been cut since he was 4 years old because of the family's interpretation of Old Testament scriptures that prevent the cutting of his hair.

The Michigan American Civil Liberties Union sued the public charter preparatory high school Tuesday after the family complained that Claudius Benson was suspended from school three days after enrolling for violating the dress code. Benson remains suspended pending permanent expulsion.

"There was no other option but to vindicate his rights through a lawsuit," said Michael Steinberg, legal director of the ACLU Michigan chapter.

"Plaintiff wears long hair in keeping with his family's religious beliefs which are grounded in The Old Testament, and which demand compliance with various scriptural laws, including a passage in the Book of Leviticus that he and his family interpret as forbidding the cutting of hair," according to the complaint.

The Old Redford Academy "reserves the right to counsel, reprimand and even dismiss a student if the student does not cooperate or comply with the school standards."

"Hair must be neatly groomed in a close-cropped hair cut. Hair must be evenly shaped. (Braids twists, dreadlocks, etc., are unacceptable)," according to the school's dress code.

The school stands behind its dress code but will consider the Benson family's request.

“Anytime somebody looks for an exemption to our dress code police, we’re going to take a good, hard look at it to make sure it’s an appropriate request,” said Joseph Urban, an attorney representing Old Redford Academy. "We need to examine whether he is in fact asking for a religious exemption and what he's asserting for the religious exemption."

A school security guard escorted Claudius Benson to a meeting with a school administrator on Sept. 6 — the third day of school — where he was given a suspension form, according to the complaint.

Alecha Benson appealed to the school's board of directors on Sept. 11, explaining that her son's hair could not be cut because of religious beliefs. Claudius Benson remains on suspension.

Alecha Benson said she asked the ACLU for help because a board won't fully review the matter until Oct. 10, which would leave her son out of school for more than a month.

The school is allowing Claudius Benson to complete homework assignments at home but school policy provides a "0" grade on them since he is on suspension, Alecha Benson said.

The ACLU wants the school to declare its action unconstitutional and to allow Claudius Benson back on campus with the suspension removed from his school record.

It seems since late summer, I've been hearing more and more stories about students getting suspended/expelled because of their hair. I'm not sure which is worse, the eyeliner or the hair.

What is the big deal? It's just hair! Is having long hair going to stop someone who is sitting half across the room from concentrating on Geometry? No...well, unless it has some kind of funky smell or something, but that's a special circumstance. These school boards need to get the stick out of their asses, stop being so damn stubborn, and use some common sense.

Hair is just hair! Do these school not realize the bad press they're getting because they are denying a student their education because of a haircut? How's it going to look when they get ready to go to college and someone asks them why they were suspended/expelled? Not all colleges do the interview process and all the student to explain. Some just see the blemish and move on. So, these schools may cost them entrance into their dream college. One must wonder, how is it they can live with themselves knowing that they can do that much damage because they're stuck in their ways!


Sara said...

Ignorant, stupid people. Unfortunately, the world is full of them!

Mystery Man said...

sad, but true

Kate said...

A couple of years ago a boy at a school local to us was suspended shortly before his final exams for having "disruptive hair". I'm not quite sure how that works LOL