Since When Is Being a Redhead Grounds for Expulsion?

Julie Ryan Evans

highlightsFor her twelfth birthday, Stephanie Plato wanted to spruce up her hair a bit. Her wish was granted, and her mother took her to the local salon to get some red and blonde highlights put into her otherwise brown hair.

"They were cool," the girl from Channelview, Texas, told KPLC. "They make my hair look better and makes it look cute."

Instead of receiving compliments for her new 'do, she got sent home and an in-school suspension. I must have missed the scientific evidence that says redheads perform poorly in school or something? What other reason would a school -- a PUBLIC school -- have for discriminating against redheads?

The school district says her highlights were "distracting" and break the student code of conduct, which lists a host of items that shouldn't be worn, including "inappropriate hair color, such as red." Way to insult the redheads of the world. What's wrong with red hair? My grandmother, I'm sure, is quite insulted.

I get rules and dress codes, and understand that some clothing items and personal appearances can be distracting in a school. But highlights? C'mon, there's got to be some room for personal expression among students in our schools, and teachers should be able to handle any distraction a new hairdo causes. I dyed my hair every color of the rainbow growing up, and I went to a private, conservative school.

And just how are you going to regulate highlights? I'd like to know how many teachers at the school highlight their hair. What of students who go on summer vacation and come back with blonder locks -- are they going to test them for bleach?

Plato says she just wanted to be like her mom. "I think it's really stupid because I shouldn't be punished for just my hair," she said. Yes, stupid is a good word for it.

The school wouldn't let her come back until she dyed her hair back to its original color, which she did. Good for her for putting her education first, but I almost wish a bigger protest would have been made for such a ridiculous show of power on the school's part.

Do you think it's appropriate that a student be suspended for having highlights?

Image via QuotableKidney/Flickr

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