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The Toledo Private school student who was recently faced with an unusual challenge to remove her Sisterlocks, (a natural hair style of micro sized locks) in order to attend school was granted permission to attend school just they way she is.This came about from several meetings the mother and student had with school officials, trying to educate them on natural hair, styles and such.Because both were new to the natural hair community, their information was limited, but they provided their knowledge of what natural hair is and what he difference between Dreadlocks and Sisterlocks are,

After dozens of former Central Catholic High School Alumni and local residents with various natural hair styles wrote and called into  the school, and meetings with the student and her mother, Central Catholic administrators loosened the language a bit in their handbooks. Although the policy about dreadlocks isn’t completely changed, there are some revisions that came from several people who illustrated the nature  and versatility of Afro textured hair, relating it to the cultural identity various natural hair styles represent.

Below you will find a slightly revised language in the policy although the main statement about NO Dreadlocks or “twisty” hairstyles remains in place.

Dreadlocks or “twisty” hairstyles are not acceptable. Hair carvings are not permitted. Hair color is to be ofone of the original colors. No hairstyle is to call attention to itself. Spikes and Mohawks are strictly forbidden. No exaggerated hairstyles. The AP/Dean will make the final ruling on hairstyles and colors.

UNIFORM DRESS CODE FOR GENTLEMEN

 Hair is to be neat, clean, properly combed, does not extend beyond the bottom of the collar or in some way obscures a student’s face. (No dreadlocks) If a student dyes his hair, it is to be of only one traditional color. The AP/Dean is the final judge of what is acceptable. No exaggerated hairstyles.

UNIFORM DRESS CODE FOR LADIES

 Hair: All hair must be a natural color, neat, clean and well groomed (no dreadlocks). If a student dyes her hair, it is to be of only one traditional color. The AP/Dean is the final judge of what is acceptable. No exaggerated hairstyles.

 

There was a great response and a greater divide among readers who voiced their opinions about this matter. Several people concurred that because this is a private school, they are right to be able to decide whatsoever they choose even if it is contrary to their philosophy. The general audience didn’t dispute that at all, but the depth of it is something people battled with. What are the true underlying reasons why this policy was written?

Was it because of the Lil Wayne flooded airways? The NFL and NBA stars who have made locks a trend? What about internet search engines that pull up pictures of freeformed Dreadlocks when you type in the term? Could it be due to ignorance, not knowing about hair locking? OR could it be due to a great deal of research and internet trends as natural hair itself is a growing topic online?

Just as much as the audience watching this scenario play out knows that the writers of this policy are certainly inconsistent with their policies and philosophies, they also know there isn’t much to do about it except watch to watch and wait.

In reaction to this incident, Toledoans prepared a protest to address the culturally damning policy. Organizers of the event felt a need and an opportunity to come together to support the student who was bruised by this heavy blow to her very identity. But because of the request of the student’s mother and conflicted supporters who were offended but forgiving of this incident, the protest was called off.

Many comments from the original story to message boards on Facebook and other blogs were right down the middle with those who say so what, it’s only hair, take it down or cut it and get the best education you can get or forget the school, keep the locks and go somewhere else.

The greater concern from readers is the issue of racism, prejudice and discrimination. Sine the policy stated no dreadlocks or twistys as opposed to stating it like this” “Although our school believes in respecting cultural and spiritual practices and acknowledge that there are certain ways to dress or wear one’s hair in relation to their culture, it is our school policy that the hair of both male and female students be neat, clean and professionally presentable”-or something to that effect. This would encourage students to take pride in their hair a bit more, and become instrumental in presenting themselves accordingly.But to single out styles, presenting them in a way that is offensive even if one doesn’t know what “twistys” are, is where there is a serious issue.

For the many readers who have commented, this school IS private, however, it DOES receive funds from the State to allow students from public schools who are also from a home with low income, and gives them an opportunity to go to a private school virtually free. This may be an issue for some school officials who feel they may be losing their grip on having a school of distinction and excellence, and are fighting to separate themselves from the public school image. Because of this, it is understood why the policy was written.

For now, the school has modified its policy a bit, but the student who was the center of all of this is the President of the Afro Club and endeavors to hold several events surrounding cultural awareness including natural hair workshops which The Kitchen Salon will be a part of.

*The name of the student was withheld for privacy.