Public Schools as Bullies: No Redheads Allowed

Heather Murphy-Raines
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Heather Murphy-Raines/Scout's Honor
Ah, the life of a redhead. For some, it involves torturous dealings with bullies and being called "Gingers." For others, it's a charmed lifestyle. As an {ahem} enhanced redhead, I find nothing better. It suits my Irish temperament as my husband will attest.

It appears Texas 6th grader Stephanie Plato agrees. She got red highlights for her 12th birthday with her mom's consent. Who knew the bully she would have to worry about most would be her public school? She was suspended -- under the guise that her school district's student code of conduct lists items that may not be worn ... including inappropriate hair color, such as red. 

Yes, my friends, apparently they've outlawed redheads as unnatural. Annie git yer guns!! 

This. Is. War!

Now to clarify, we aren't talking fire engine red. Not stop sign red. Nope, not even a distracting Raggedy Ann red. Nor a drastic day-glo hairstyle or even a mohawk like my son has sported since he was 7. Straight-A student Stephanie Plato simply got some red highlights with some blonde thrown in, to spice up her rather unassuming light brown locks:

 

Maybe the colorist started out with highlights brighter than intended -- with the idea that reds fade fast -- but by no means are these as egregious as the school district alleges. Instead of allowing Stephanie a day or two of shampooing to naturally tone her hair down, she was punished with two days of missed education. School officials told her and her mom that her pretty tame highlights were a violation of the code of conduct and she was removed from the classroom. Stephanie was allowed to go back to school only after her mother paid money to change her color once again. 

Funny enough, the Texas school district did not allow an on-camera interview, "nor would they specifically talk about Stephanie other than saying her red highlights were a violation of the student dress code." 

Thank bejesus my baby girl with black lowlights, chocolate brown tones, and red highlights and my mohawk-sporting little guy live here in the Seattle 'burbs where education, not conformity, is the focus. I mean who knows what could happen? I shudder to think what my purple hair then BRIGHT red waist-length hair in my SF Bay Area high school could have led to ... oh yes, a 3.7 GPA at U.C. Berkeley.

Yep, that hair ruined everything. {snort}

Please tell me when our tax dollars became fair game for PUBLIC schools to become the fashion police? Shouldn't we be more concerned with what goes in this child's head that what goes on it?


Image via Scouts Honor/United States of Motherhood

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