A Black student will leave his South Dakota high school at the end of the semester due to a new policy that would require him to shorten his long, dread-locked hair.
This comes after Bishop O’Gorman Catholic Schools system in Sioux Falls implemented a new policy for male students that said that their hair must sit above their shirt collar, according to the Argus Leader.
The student has his hair in traditional African twists known as locs. He had been a student in the school system since he was in the sixth grade, and the length of his hair had never been a problem up until the new policy was adopted on Aug. 18.
“We don’t necessarily agree with the rule,” Derrick Schafer, the student’s father, told the Argus Leader. “We think it’s culturally biased.”
The rule change was made as an update to the school’s dress code policy. It was last updated in 2018.
Kyle Groos, Bishop O’Gorman Catholic Schools’ president, said that the style or culture of the hair isn’t the issue — it’s the length. A spokesperson for the school system said that about 20 male students have been asked to comply since the policy was implemented.
School administrators informed Mr. Schafer and his wife, Toni, that putting the locs in an updo wasn’t allowed either because the school doesn’t permit “man buns.”
The parents and the school system eventually reached a compromise allowing the student to finish the semester so he wouldn’t miss out on playing in the marching band and football team.
Mr. Schafer is still confused about why the rule is coming about now.
“He’s been in the system for three years with the same length hair. We’re confused on why it’s become an issue now. Why? They’ve had plenty of chances to discuss it with us,” said Mr. Schafer.