Remember when you were a kid and you got a cool new haircut? Remember how you just couldn't wait to show it off to your friends? Well, 9-year-old Kamryn Renfro's new 'do was the ultimate of cool -- she shaved her head to support a pal with cancer. But her return to school after her haircut wasn't exactly what kids look forward to -- Caprock Academy in Grand Junction, Colorado, suspended her for it!
Administrators at the public charter school told Kamryn's parents that her shaved head violated the dress code, and they barred her from going to class.
Because heaven forbid kids rock a funky hairdo at school?
I suppose this is where I should offer up a little disclaimer. I'm personally up in arms about this subject because a little more than a week ago, I was the one sitting down to shave my head ... and I was doing it specifically for the St. Baldrick's Foundation, a non-profit that raises money for childhood cancer research. It was my seventh year shaving, but this year I was inspired by a 10-year-old in my town who was organizing the entire shave-a-thon himself!
Just a little older than Kamryn, his heart is just as big, but our school district -- unlike hers -- was totally on board. They even allowed the young man in my town to wander the halls raising money for the cause.
Apparently that wouldn't have flown at Caprock, where shaved heads are prohibited, according to the head of the school's board of directors, because the school has "a detailed dress code policy, which was created to promote safety, uniformity, and a non-distracting environment for the school's students."
That's why they told Kamryn she couldn't come back to school until her hair grew back after she'd shaved to support pal Delaney Clements, who was diagnosed in 2010 with neuroblastoma, a rare form of childhood cancer.
First off, I'm not buying the "safety" angle. Shaving your head presents a danger to other kids in pretty much the same way that same sex marriage presents a danger to my straight relationship?
What, are they going to be blinded by the shine off your newly bald pate?
As for "uniformity" and a "non-distracting environment," I'm going to go out on a limb and say there are worse things than a kid whose haircut is a little different, worse distractions in the classroom than somebody's hairdo.
Let's set aside the good deed Kamryn was doing here for her friend.
What schools like Caprock -- and those around the country with similarly draconian dress codes -- fail to recognize is that hair is one of the few things that can be changed by a child with little to no negative long-term effects. It's one "safe" rebellion.
Kids NEED those. They need to have some ways to express themselves that won't have negative repercussions down the line. That's how they learn who they are and what it means to make their own decisions.
Let me put it this way: I'd much prefer kids shave their heads and a few kids at school point, stare, and make some comments at the beginning of the class period than kids experiment and stretch their wings by doing something dangerous ... drugs, alcohol, you name it -- you know, something truly "distracting" or "unsafe" for a school community.
Caprock seems to be relenting, by the way, but the outrage over this should send a message to other schools.
It's just hair!
What do you think is an appropriate dress code guideline for kids' hair?
Image via Robert S. Donovan/Flickr