I've never been a fan of dress codes. Whether it's a school uniform or "business casual" at the office, I've hated them all. We're individuals in a great big melting pot of a country. Clothing conformity seems to spit in the face of our very existence.
I know the arguments pro-dress code fans offer. It evens the playing field. No kid will feel left out or jealous because they don't have the newest pair of skinny jeans or Angry Birds T-shirts. I understand your argument. I just don't agree with it. Wearing an offensive T-shirt is one thing, but just showing you're a fan of a product is another.
And then there's Ethan Clos. The Ohio-based kindergartner was recently suspended from Reid Elementary School for sporting a mohawk. I'm sorry, what? They kicked a 5-year-old kid out of school for a silly haircut?
Apparently Ethan was in violation of a school dress and grooming policy that states any dress or grooming that disrupts the education process is not allowed. Since all of his classmates couldn't stop staring (and touching) Ethan's mohawk, it was considered a policy violation.
First off, their solution is to have Ethan shave his head. Okay. Show of hands: how many of you think a kid with a shaved head won't be a distraction to his classmates either? Yeah. Me neither. I just don't see how that's any better of a solution.
Second, what if Ethan was Native American and a mohawk was part of his culture? Would he be able to fight this? Or what if his religion dictated he wear a mohawk or some other unique hairstyle? I bet the school wouldn't bat an eye for fear of religious or cultural persecution.
I understand teaching kids to follow the rules. But in this case, I think the lesson of acceptance and individuality far outweighs the gray area of "disruption" in a grooming policy.
Maybe instead of letting the mohawk be a distraction to the rest of the class, the teacher could've taken the opportunity to turn it into a learning experience. Talk about individuality. Talk about different hair colors and styles. Talk about freedom of expression. Obviously, these would all have to be toned down to a kindergarten level, but with such an attentive audience, how can you pass up that opportunity?
I'm sad to learn that Ethan sat out of school for a few days, only to return this week with a shaved head. I only hope that his classmates don't start obsessing over his Sesame Street shirts or Osh Kosh jeans. If they do, before long, he could be coming to school buck nekkid.
Were your kids ever sent home for violating a dress code or grooming policy?
Photo via Jeff Turner/Flickr