Should hair length be regulated by school dress codes?

4-year-old Taylor Pugh says he's growing his hair out to give to cancer patients. His school says it's not OK and suspended him. (AP)

Four-year-old Taylor Pugh says he's growing his hair out to give to cancer patients. His school says it's not OK and suspended him. (AP)

A 4-year-old boy has been suspended from his pre-K class in Texas since late November because the school says his hair is too long and violates its dress code.

Taylor Pugh has been separated from his class and sent to the library to study with a teacher’s aide since Nov. 24.

The school board did offer a compromise on Monday where the boy could braid his hair and pin it up. But the parents rejected it because the mother says her son likes his long and the braiding would make his scalp bleed according to the Associated Press.

From The New York Times:

“The boy’s parents, Delton Pugh and Elizabeth Taylor, have argued that it is unfair to punish Taylor for his longish locks; it suggests, they say, that the district cares more about appearances than education.”

“ ‘I don’t think it’s right to hold a child down and force him to do something,’ Mr. Pugh, a tattoo artist, told The Associated Press. ‘It’s not hurting him or affecting his education.’ ”

“ ‘It’s a trade-off,’ said one board member, Gary Bingham, an insurance agent, in an interview. ‘Do the parents value his education more than they value a 4-year-old’s decision to make his own grooming choices?’ ”

The little guy says he misses his friends.

The AP story explains more on the dress code:

“According to the district dress code, boys’ hair must be kept out of the eyes and cannot extend below the bottom of earlobes or over the collar of a dress shirt. Fads in hairstyles ‘designed to attract attention to the individual or to disrupt the orderly conduct of the classroom or campus is not permitted,’ the policy states.”

I personally think the little guy is lot cuter with his hair down. (AP)

I personally think the little guy is lot cuter with his hair down. (AP)

“The district is known for standing tough on its dress code. Last year, a seventh-grader was sent home for wearing black skinny pants. His parents chose to home-school him.”

“On its Web site, the district says its code is in place because ’students who dress and groom themselves neatly, and in an acceptable and appropriate manner, are more likely to become constructive members of the society in which we live.’ ”

“Taylor said her fight is not over. She and her husband are considering taking the district to court or appealing to the State Board of Education.”

” ‘I know that there are a whole set of steps we can take,’ she said.”

OK parents and teachers what do you think: Should a school dress code control the appearance of a child’s hair? How do Georgia public schools with dress codes handle hair?

What should the standards for hair length and appearance be based on? Should boy standards differ from girl standards?

Should the parents agree to the braids? Should they pull their child from the school? Should they fight on? What would you do?

What do you think of the school’s Web site statements?

189 comments Add your comment

Julia

January 13th, 2010
9:45 am

TnT’s Mom they do have brains.. this cant be a case by case thing.. if they do then every body can get by with every thing.

We all know just how freaking mean and cruel kids can be.. Yes make them the laughing stock of the class where the other kids are making fun of him.. BAER!

Williebkind

January 13th, 2010
9:46 am

tomiswho

January 13th, 2010
9:24 am
Yeah! The parents are teaching their kid to be gay or to accept homosexuality. I get it..those parents know that a 4yr old should make big decisions–like what sex he likes.

Julia

January 13th, 2010
9:47 am

Guy this was not at his bus stop but this kid had on a skirt if she moved her panties would show and she had on boots like Julia Roberts wore in Pretty Woman. Yes the first thing I though was.. girl did you go in your mothers work closet?? This was a middle schooler too!

Williebkind

January 13th, 2010
9:49 am

If I owned the pre-k I would sue the parents for child neglect.

oneofeach4me

January 13th, 2010
9:50 am

Has anyone considered that MAYBE just MAYBE the other kids (siblings) have short hair, and this young boy has longer hair because he really DOES want to donate it to Locks of Love?? I mean.. if the mom was an attention w**re.. why not go all out?? I’m just sayin.

IM

January 13th, 2010
9:51 am

School dress code allows long hair. It just that hair cannot cover eyes. Just look at the photo – you think if you covered kid’s right eye, he could see what a teacher is writing on a board? These parents are clueless! This kid will soon need glasses – his hair is getting in a way of vision. Simple as that.

This is another family where 15 minutes of Internet fame is put in front of child educational priority. Nothing more, nothing less.

Julia

January 13th, 2010
9:52 am

Williebkind this goes on a whole another topic the the balloon boy’s parents, why are they not room mates in jail and why are those kids taken into child custody?

Wounded Warrior

January 13th, 2010
9:52 am

Looks like the Equal Opportunity Clause needs to apply to all, both boys and girls. If they allow special exceptions for reglious beliefs then, they need to do it for cultural ones also. I am Native American and an Army veteran. A job is one thing, but pre-k? Are they trying to squash any creativity he has before he even starts 1st grade. Do the teachers have nothing better to do, like teach colors, or is it all about 3 hour nap time in pre-k?

JMP

January 13th, 2010
9:54 am

Had a minute to look at Dad(thanks to the info Liz’s 9:32). Julia, your posts are speaking to me today! I’ll continue lurking…

Julia

January 13th, 2010
9:55 am

Wounded Warrior my dad is full blooded Cherokee – this child is not in a tribal school – His parents are not special and they need to follow the rules. Yes I do understand the trail of tears.

Nikki

January 13th, 2010
9:56 am

Eh…much more to worry about in this day in age. However….if it’s in the rules, it’s in the rules. When you attend a school, public or not–you are agreeing to the rules. If you don’t want to abide by them find a different school or home school. Personally, I dislike seeing little boys with long hair (usually b/c mom and dad are the wanna be bohemian type–yuck), but once again…if you agreed to the rules you need to have the character to abide by them—case closed.

Mom123

January 13th, 2010
9:57 am

That kid looks mildly retarded. A crew cut would do him good.

Julia

January 13th, 2010
9:58 am

oneofeach4me – if that is the case.. Then why did she not pull the teacher aside in the first place and tell her what they are doing? I would have done that but then again I dont do things to just piss off the school board either.

Goldilox

January 13th, 2010
9:58 am

As long as his hair is clean and put into a real ponytail (lower on the back of the head, like guys wear) I’m OK with it. Whatever they do, they should not make that little top-of-the-head thing like girls wear.

Julia

January 13th, 2010
9:59 am

Mom123 – I am sorry but that comment is VERY offensive… I have 2 brothers in wheel chairs with CP.. They are NOT retarted!

IM

January 13th, 2010
10:01 am

What i do not get is that parents claim that long hair is kid’s personality. You must be kidding? Do you count how many times a day a parent says “No” to a 4 year old? If you apply the same logic, maybe not eating vegetables, not doing homework, hitting a friend is kid’s personality as well?

I think long hair has nothing to so with kid’s personality. It is what kid’s parents want, and thus they are not saying no to it.

oneofeach4me

January 13th, 2010
10:06 am

@Julia – Who says the parent’s are doing it just to piss off the school board?? Did you not read the part where the father said there are PLENTY of other’s boys in the school district that have hair LONGER than that of his child? And it doesn’t say whether or not the mom pulled the teacher to the side. It wouldn’t have mattered anyone, it’s the administration and school board that enforces those rules. The teacher probably has her hands full with other things. Heck the way people are pre-judging this family on this board, his child just might be being singled out. Who knows.

Guy

January 13th, 2010
10:07 am

Julia, seriously, which bus stop is it that half the girls that are standing at the bus stop look like hookers? Their skirts are up to their ya ya’s…?

oneofeach4me

January 13th, 2010
10:08 am

@IM.. my son liked his hair longer. But he wouldn’t sit still long enough to get it combed regularly. I told him, u can’t sit still to get it combed then it comes off. Needless to say, it’s gone. Maybe as he gets older and can tough it out we will try it again. It really may be part of his personality though, especially since his siblings have short crew cuts.

Jane

January 13th, 2010
10:08 am

oneofeach4me – you believe the father? The old “hey, they’re doing it too” routine. You don’t think the school did something about the others too?

MomsRule

January 13th, 2010
10:09 am

@usuallylurking, you ask good questions that have complex answers. I don’t think I can justly answer them in a blog forum.

In this situation, the parents do not have to send their child to this school. They made a choice to do so and I don’t believe the school should have to changes its rules for one kid. The world does not revolve around one person. That’s an issue today. So many people seem to think that society should bend every rule to suit the individual.

I think many rules at my kids school are silly but they still have to follow them. Why? Because that is where they are attending school. We’ve had many discussions on this subject. While I may agree with their gripe, it doesn’t change the fact that it is a rule and therefore it needs to be followed.
Now, once they are old enough to really form their own opinions (not happening at 4), if they want to change policy on something, I will support them as long as they have sound, just arguments, and a plan in place to attempt to make the change. I won’t support the approach of “I don’t like it so I’m going to take my ball, go home and cry foul.”

I can’t help but wonder… if the parents are acting like this when the kid is 4, over his hair length, what about in a few years when he has a cell phone and Mom wants to text him in the middle of his algebra test. “What? Why can’t MY kid have his phone in class? I need to be able to reach him at all times. It makes him feel secure. I don’t care what your policy is! This is my kid. We are special.”

Julia

January 13th, 2010
10:10 am

Guy it was a school bus stop in cobb county – up in Kennesaw

cld

January 13th, 2010
10:12 am

IM – I think you’re right in that it’s less about the kid’s personality and more about the dynamics at home (and parents’ personalities). Apparently these parents don’t say no often enough. If you click on the “more info” story, there is a photo of the kid lounging on the top of that table, right in front of his dad. Plus, the dad says the son “made [him] pinky-swear” that the dad would grow out his hair, too. Seriously?? Your four-year-old “made” you pinky-swear? Obviously they never say no. Kids test boundaries, looking for the line they aren’t supposed to cross. Parents need to teach their children where the line is. Apparently that hasn’t happened in this case.

Julia

January 13th, 2010
10:13 am

oneofeach4me every time I told my mom – well Tammy gets to do it… she would come back with – well if Tammy jumped off a bridge would you follow her?

Mom123

January 13th, 2010
10:21 am

Julia, isn’t a little early to be hitting the bottle? Could you have at least laid off while you were pregnant?

Julia

January 13th, 2010
10:23 am

Mom123 I hope your children are not not nearly as nasty as you are… How dare you

ashley

January 13th, 2010
10:27 am

i have a 3 year old son and his hair was about the same length. he loved it and did not want me to cut it. i think that the school board is being unfair and very judgmental. his hair is not that long and it is shorter than alot of other kids hair that we see on t.v.! i don’t see how they can make the decision on weither or not to cut someone elses chids hair. it is not their decision to make. what is next are you going to suspend a little girl who has short hair, because our society doesn’t beleive that girls should have short hair?! why can’t a boy have long hair?! the school system shouldn’t worry about the childs hair but his education and his health. besides the little boy is growing out his hair for donations for a wig company for cancer patients. that says a lot about his character and that he is a loving little boy and should be able to continue with whatever look he wants.

catlady

January 13th, 2010
10:33 am

This is another case where it would be better if the media did not report, like Octomom’s situation, for example. No hoopla and the “problem” goes away when someone mistakes him for a girl. Really, all you are doing is feeding the problem. Drop it. Let it be a local matter between the parents and school board.

ATLien

January 13th, 2010
10:38 am

If schools don’t enforce their dress code – and in this case, hair length for boys – then the next thing to happen is bullying from other kids. Then, the school would be blamed AGAIN!
Rules are rules. If you don’t like them, make different choices.

Julia

January 13th, 2010
10:42 am

ATLien I agree with you – take for instance that kid here that hung his self – over bullying…

pixie

January 13th, 2010
10:42 am

I wish all public school would make & follow the rules regarding the hair. It’s hard to tell boys from girls anymore.

IM

January 13th, 2010
10:44 am

Ashley – what else your 3 years old loves? Do you let him do everything what he likes or wants to do?

Nikki

January 13th, 2010
10:48 am

Your 3 year old likes it or YOU do?

oneofeach4me

January 13th, 2010
10:48 am

@Julia that was not my point. The little boy didn’t come home and say “I want my hair long because other boy’s in the school have their hair long”. My point was that the father felt as if his son was being singled out due to the fact their are other boys with long hair that get away with it.

@Jane ~ I don’t know if the school did something to them or not. I don’t know if the father is telling the truth about other kids getting away with it, but I also don’t know if he is lying. Like I said before, the way people on this board are judging that family his son may very well have been singled out.

I say if the parents can move him to another school that doesn’t regulate hair length they should do so. However, not every school district allows kids to attend any school in the district as Cobb County does. They may not have a “choice” as far as public school is concerned. The child is still attending school, the parents just don’t want him singled out. So the school board doesn’t find it distracting enough for him to COME to school, just to sit in the classroom?? Okay.

IM

January 13th, 2010
10:49 am

Is 4 year old growing hair for donation or his parents are? 4 year’s old focus is on playing, eating and sleeping and not researching what donations to make. I honestly think parents came with the donation idea, not the kid.

TechMom

January 13th, 2010
10:49 am

In a public environment you have the opportunity to plead your case up the chain but that does not mean you have the right to ignore the rules set forth. Cut his hair, plead your case and IF the policy changes, THEN let him grow his hair out.

I do think it’s important for kids to get to make *some* decisions for themselves as it teaches them independence but there has to be boundaries and it has to be within the rules set forth. My son has mostly gone to private school so there has typically been a strict uniform and appearance code. In 4th grade we switched schools to one that was lax on their dress code and did not have a length of hair policy for boys. My son decided to grow his out. I think it was more of an outlet of individuality for my son as this was the first time he wasn’t told he had to cut it as soon as it touched his collar. When his hair got too distracting to him and one of his teachers, we made him a deal. He could have long ‘girly’ hair if he wanted, but he would have to wear a headband in class to hold it back like the girls do (it wasn’t quite long enough for a ponytail) so that it wouldn’t be so distracting. That lasted a couple of months but by the time summer arrived and it was hot, the hair was short again at his request.

The same strict school my son went to when he was very young had a rule about women wearing skirts or dresses and even as a mother if you were chaperoning a trip, you had to adhere to the dress code. I certainly have no issues with women wearing pants and rarely wear skirts or dresses but when I chose to send my son to school there, I agreed to their rules and therefore had to abide by them. If you choose to be a citizen of the US, you choose to abide by the rules of our land or face consequences. If you choose to be a student then you choose to abide by the rules set forth by the school you are attending.

oneofeach4me

January 13th, 2010
10:51 am

Give me a break. Hair and bullying are NOT the same thing. The school board is letting him attend, just segregating him. Due to his hair length??

Mom should keep his hair as it is and just pull it back into a low ponytail so he can at least be with his friends.

Sug

January 13th, 2010
10:51 am

Julia, you are probably the meanest poster I have seen up in here in a very long time.

Nikki

January 13th, 2010
10:51 am

I agree, IM. I think that the donation thing came along as an after thought, an excuse. What 4 year old do you know who made a decision like this (or parents made) wouldn’t be telling the whole class on a consistent basis?

Hey, Julia...

January 13th, 2010
10:53 am

…that was not a good thing to give a suspected pervert like Guy the location of the school bus stop where the potential for abuse may exist – think next time, please!

Julia

January 13th, 2010
10:54 am

TechMom did your son agree to the head band thing? My son would have stroke if I even brought one near his head

mom2boys

January 13th, 2010
10:55 am

Some of the responses on this blog from people who are supposedly “parents” explain a lot about kids these days…hair length at the age of 4 has nothing to do with creativity, what a waaa waaa argument. And these parents would not be judged had they not created this debacle in the first place, much like the balloon boy’s parents. They are out for their 15 minutes. They may think they are all about individuality and creativity, but again I will say, let’s see how they like that when this kid is 15 and refuses to abide by any house rules because he is special. “Special” kids like that usually end up in jail a few times.

April

January 13th, 2010
10:55 am

I have worked I schools with strict requirements for hair and with loose policies. Hair and dress do make a difference. Kids focus better and concentrate on what is going on in the classroom better when they are not constantly wondering what others are wearing or waiting to someone’s outrageous outfit or hairstyle of the day. If the rule was in place and published when school started, the parents are completely in the wrong. They need to set good examples for their kids in making food choices and expressing yourself and your individuality in ways that are Appropriate for your environment.

Julia

January 13th, 2010
10:55 am

Sug and what is this? Julia, isn’t a little early to be hitting the bottle? Could you have at least laid off while you were pregnant?

April

January 13th, 2010
10:57 am

Sorry, that should be good choices – the iPhone sometimes thinks it knows best!

hey mom2boys...

January 13th, 2010
10:58 am

kids with short hair ALSO end up in jail a few times. Hair length does not determine whether or not a kid will follow rules.

Julia

January 13th, 2010
10:58 am

mom2boys – amen!

mom2boys

January 13th, 2010
11:01 am

@ hey mom2 boys…is that what I said or are you incabable of getting the point? The point is not the hair length…the point is whether or not the child is taught that he or she does not have to follow the rules and that he or she can always be the exception…it’s those kids who don’t think they have to listen or follow rules, and that mommy and daddy will always get them out of trouble that will end up in jail. Hair length is irrelevant.

samlee

January 13th, 2010
11:01 am

Dress codes are important because we have become so lax as a society in accepting any and all kinds of dress. As a high school teacher, I will say that dress and appearance outside of the norm is a distraction. However, this is a 4 year old. I am not sure he knows what it means to donate hair to cancer patients or if that is something that he has been told. In his photo, he appears to have an “attitude”. I think this could be the beginning of child that goes through life thumbing his nose at rules. The bigger picture needs to be look at here. Long hair? Following rules? I vote for following rules and express your individuality in a different way.

Sug

January 13th, 2010
11:11 am

How many of you in this blog follow ALL rules to the “T”? How many of you obey speed limits? How many of you drink and drive? How many of you have done illegal drugs?

I think ya’ll are being extremely judgmental about some child’s hair. So what? I know several boys with extremely long hair and they are very loveable. Some of my best male friends have long hair.