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D.L. Stewart: Heading off another hairy threat to education

Hair we go again.

In a controversy approximately as surprising as the sun setting in the west, yet another school has disciplined a student due to the color of her hair.

As reported by Yahoo! News, “Eighth-grader Alena Halliwill dyed her hair bright red during the summer of 2016. Within days of returning to school in the fall, the Ypsilanti, Mich., teen’s hair color became an issue.

“The 13-year-old was kept out of South Arbor Charter Academy for a day because her hair color violated the school dress code, which calls out hair specifically: ‘Extreme hairstyles and hair of unnatural color are not permitted.’”

So, with the support of her parents, Alena transferred to a different school.

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When the story broke last week, readers on both sides of the issue weighed in on social media, although there hasn’t yet been a tweet by Donald Trump calling the teenager “overrated.”

— “Terrible parenting. This girl is in for a rude awakening when the real-world comes calling.”

— “She was presented with options and consequences. She was allowed to make her choice. And everyone was satisfied. This is how you teach children to be responsible for themselves. Good parenting.”

— “So this young lady would rather keep her unapproved hair color than receive a quality education. She and her parents priorities are a little out of whack.”

— “These control freaks just have to stop it.”

— “If you choose to look like a freak, be prepared to get treated like a freak.”

— “WHY does it matter what color a person’s hair is??? If people are so distracted by hair color, then they should be on medication. THIS HAS GONE TOO FAR.”

— “Is she gonna quit her job in the future to be an entitled brat? Her parents are doing her no favor.”

— “Why is this news?”

Why, indeed? What’s the big deal about hair?

In the ’50s, when boys starting greasing their locks into a style we referred to as “D.As.,” school officials were convinced we all were going to wind up as gangsters. In the ’60s, guys wearing long hair were stereotyped as hippie Communists.

Certainly schools have the right – and the responsibility — to restrict some things they believe might be distracting. Sexually provocative attire. T-shirts bearing racist or sexist slogans. Clothing that hasn’t seen the inside of a washing machine since last semester and is starting to smell like wet skunk.

But, as nearly as my research can determine, no student ever has failed to learn how to read and write because he or she was so distracted by the shape, length or color of the hair on the kid sitting at the next desk.

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