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

hey mom2boys...

January 13th, 2010
11:11 am

what about kids that get persecuted because of how they look even though they are good kids with good grades??

oneofeach4me

January 13th, 2010
11:12 am

I second that SUG

Liz

January 13th, 2010
11:13 am

Sug – you’re the one who said: “Individuality is NOT allowed in government schools. everyone MUST be the exact same.”

Sounds like you’re the mouthy one.

Jane

January 13th, 2010
11:15 am

So SUG, are YOU the one who gets to determine which rules need to be followed? If you don’t follow the rule you get punished. Yeah, some of us speed – if we get caught we pay the fine. What’s your point?

You follow the rules. You don’t like the rules, you can try to have them changed – but don’t break them and then cry because you were busted.

Mom of 2

January 13th, 2010
11:16 am

There are rules for a reason, and if one child is given special treatment telling him he doesn’t have to follow those rules, then what kind of adult will that make him? We had hair/clothing restrictions when I was in school, and it made us better for it. Without rules and boundaries, you are telling people it’s ok to just do whatever you want, whenever you want.

Julia

January 13th, 2010
11:17 am

Sorry Sug but NO do not drink and drive and sorry I have never done illegal drugs so please try again. If I do speed and get caught.. Yep I pay the price…

Tom

January 13th, 2010
11:17 am

Yeah regulate hair, pants for boys, shirts for girls.

Julia

January 13th, 2010
11:19 am

The last thing I want to see is any ones butt crack

Julia

January 13th, 2010
11:22 am

Oh and as far as octomom – if she were in the shoes of the “family of 200 kids and growing” Where they are not getting any support it would be one thing but this woman is not able to even take care of her self – much less her brood. With that being said, they were saying the Dr could lose his license.. I think he should keep his practice and pay child support for those kids!

Nikki

January 13th, 2010
11:22 am

So, what Sug is saying is that since adults disobey rules (speeding, etc) it should be okay to teach our kids to go back on their word and not follow the rules.
Great…just what the world needs is people who teach their children they are entitled to live exactly how they want to no matter what they agreed to.
It’s really not about the hair—it’s the rules one agrees to and having the character to abide by them.

WTH?

January 13th, 2010
11:23 am

I think schools have gone too far with the “dress code”. Would they do the same if a little girl wanted her hair cut short? would they make her grow it? What happened to expressing your individualism? I can understand the no logos on tshirts and no sagging pants specified lenghts in shorts and skirts and shirts. Everything else is just ridiculous! And I would not pay for private education that took away that much self expression either!

Julia

January 13th, 2010
11:23 am

Nikki dont forget drinking and driving while using crack or smoking pot..

fer

January 13th, 2010
11:32 am

No, no, and NO!!! Not the length, not the style, not the color!

And let me just add that I am a retired teacher who never understood why some teachers and administrators got their panties in such a wad about students’ hair!

Michelle

January 13th, 2010
11:33 am

Well, I personally don’t care what his hair length is! I agree with a majority of the posters, if there is a rule, it should be followed. If the school was willing to negotiate (i.e. allow him to wear his hair pulled back), my question would be this…Do the girls with long hair have to do the same? If so, then ABSOLUTELY he should too!

I also doubt that he knows what Locks for Love is all about. I think he probably likes his long hair. When my son was 4, he LOVED his short hair! If it even touched his ears he was asking to get it cut! So, I do believe kids at that age have some of their own identities and fashion sense (oh…and he knew what clothes he liked too.)

As a parent though, it is up to us to decide if it is appropriate. Yes, he may want a particular style of hair or clothing, BUT if it is not right, too bad, the decision is no longer his. We can negotiate if there is room for that.

I do think the parents are looking for a little bit of the limelight. I wonder how much extra business the father is getting with all of the hoopla surrounding his son?

Hey Sug

January 13th, 2010
11:34 am

That retarded comment was rude not to mention Julia drinking during her pregnancy that was a low blow. You should be ashamed of your self for even acting like you agree with that.

Terri

January 13th, 2010
11:46 am

Check out this company. They have a wealth of information and DVD’s on how to do different techniques on hair. http://www.braidsbybreslin.com

JMP

January 13th, 2010
11:46 am

Mom2boys, you are on point. This 4 y.old does not know about Locks of Love and his parents are justing fishing for something to make their argument–but what they are showing their child is the most disturbing message of all–and that is that rules don’t apply, keep that up and they will be visiting him at a prison shortly.

Stephanie

January 13th, 2010
11:48 am

just curious.. but how does what his parents look like have anything to do with this? jeez. so judgemental. (not you, theresa)

Lurking&Smirking

January 13th, 2010
11:51 am

The parents just want some air time. They think that a reality TV show will spring up from this. Attention whores….nothing more. And now this kid will grow up with an unfettered sense of entitlement. Great.

Nikki

January 13th, 2010
11:53 am

People, people, people…it’s not about the hair. “individuality, personality, my child likes this, bla bla bla bla”—no one cares but you cares!
If there wasn’t a rule that his parents agreed to upon registering and walking into the school on his first day—none of this would be an issue!

yall are crazy

January 13th, 2010
12:03 pm

Oh yeah, God forbid the schools allow the students any type of individuality whatsoever. Wouldn’t want kids to make their own decisions. If these barbaric schools continue to regulate every aspect of the students’ lives, and tell them to do EVERYTHING their way, how do you expect them to become intelligent, responsible adults capable of making their own decisions? What these schools really want is to strip kids of their individuality and independence so that they will bend over and become another blind, groping, conformist member of the American consumer culture.

DB

January 13th, 2010
12:03 pm

What I dislike about this whole thing is the concept of the parents using their child as a platform for their own civil disobedience. There is no way that a 4 year old boy dreamed up the idea of donating his hair to Locks of Love on his own, and the whole thing smacks of manipulation. And the mom saying that she can’t braid his hair becuase it will cause his scalp to bleed? That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard — if his scalp is THAT delicate, then he should be wearing his hair as short as possible!

Having said that, I’m a little surprised that A PUBLIC SCHOOL would have such strict rules regarding hair for males — it seems like it’s leaving itself wide open to gender discrimination charges. My kids attended a private school from K-12, and its dress code was considered draconian — very limited uniform choices, and strict grooming guidelines. If a guy showed up at school with hair too long, he was sent home with an unexcused absence until it was fixed. However, it was a private school, and we knew what we were agreeing to when we signed the contract, so no complaints, here. (It sure did make getting dressed in the morning simple!)

Personally, I prefer shorter hair on guys, but that’s just me. I think the school can definitely require hair to be contained for safety reasons (during sports or other activities such as science experiments, where hair can get in the way), but as far as dictating the length — unless they are making the same rules for both boys and girls, then it seems like they are just asking for it. Let’s face it — the length of the hair isn’t really that distracting to anyone else, because other kids learn to ignore it, or just shrug and say, “Oh, that’s just so-and-so’s thing.” If I were the schoool, I’d be picking my battles — and this wouldn’t be one of them.

However, it IS currently a rule, and the parents need to set a more responsible example of how to deal with this sort of thing — which is working to get the rule changed, not breaking it just because you don’t “feel” like it. Teaching a child how to work a system is far more useful than teaching them to run headlong into brick walls. My kids have seen me take on several issues that I felt strongly about — some I was able to change, and others, I wasn’t and had to accept defeat graciously. It’s part of teaching kids how to be responsible adults: How to work with other people.

Hey Sug

January 13th, 2010
12:06 pm

DB there was a little boy that was suspended over a mohawk and then there was that boy here in Ga that dressed like a girl to school. Its just disruptive.. Again kids are mean and cruel to each other and if the kid gets picked on for their dress.. then the school is liable for bullying.

me

January 13th, 2010
12:10 pm

If he wants to keep it long – then put it in a ponytail (alot of Indian families don’t cut their boys hair til he is what about 5 or 6?) until then they wear it pulled up…..

I havent seen any mention of dreadlocks & braids on boys which we see quite a bit of. I have not seen them in ponytails – just loose braids.

Be careful they could turn this into something of a gender issue as well – if the girls can wear their hair long then why can’t the boys?

Kelly

January 13th, 2010
12:19 pm

If the school regulates what length a male student’s hair is, then they should for the girls. You can’t pick on one without the other. And I am a female with 3 daughters. The school should do like restaurants do regarding ear piercings. Limit the ear rings to one in each ear for both sexes.

Hey Sug

January 13th, 2010
12:25 pm

Kelly what if your girls wanted double piercings and they wear small tasteful ear rings?? I also have a small tattoo on my ankle. Its not disruptive or distasteful.

Julia

January 13th, 2010
12:25 pm

My computer is possessed or its just that page

fer

January 13th, 2010
12:31 pm

There is no reason that a 4-year-old couldn’t know about Locks of Love. He could have had a relative or friend who had cancer and lost his/her hair.

Anyway, whatever the reason, schools have NO business deciding how students should wear their hair!

Denise

January 13th, 2010
12:32 pm

I think these folks need to find something better to do than worry about the length of a child’s hair. I’m not saying that he should be allowed to break the rule just because he doesn’t like it; I’m saying that there should not be a rule. If it is a rule, then girls need to keep their hair short. Folks would be up in arms about that, right, because girls are pretty with long hair. As long as a child is not disruptive, pays attention, and does well in school he or she should be allowed to be in class with everyone else. I don’t think having a ponytail is being disruptive.

Someone brought up dreads and corn rows. You better believe that if someone said “no dreads” or “no corn rows” in a public school that folks would really be up in arms. I have friends whose children have dreads and if they all of a sudden couldn’t have them the would have to cut the little girls BALD. That’s BS and the school board should not have the power to decide how someone looks. Yes, they should monitor the dress code, esp. sagging pants and short shirts and short skirts and wife beaters…. That’s about how someone dresses. That is not about how someone looks.

I guess the next scenario will be when little Becky gets pulled into the principal’s office for wearing lip gloss “too young”…as deemed by “authority figures”.

Jane

January 13th, 2010
12:37 pm

Kelly – what are you talking about?

I’ve never been in a restaurant where they wouldn’t serve me because they didn’t like my 2 earings in one ear.

Liz

January 13th, 2010
12:39 pm

Denise – if you’ve got a little girl wearing lip gloss when she’s just a child, maybe she AND YOU should be taken to task for it!

DB

January 13th, 2010
12:52 pm

@Jane: I believe Kelly is referring to the restaurant employees not being allowed to wear more than one earring per ear.

@hey sug: I didn’t make myself clear — the HAIR is not something that I think should be severely regulated, beyond the necessities of safety and cleanliness (i.e., lice!) Clothing, yes, I tend to agree that it shouldn’t be spectacular or deliberately provocotive (either sexually or culturally, i.e., obviously girl clothing on boys). But then, you get into kilts — and I’m a sucker for a man in kilts! . . . :-D

Rally One

January 13th, 2010
12:59 pm

Jane, I think Kelly meant the employees at restaurants

rebecca

January 13th, 2010
1:08 pm

there shouldn’t be a problem with his hair

secret tt

January 13th, 2010
1:11 pm

his hair is as ugly as a peace of ya yas

IM

January 13th, 2010
1:17 pm

If the length of hair defines the personality, well…. congratulations – you have been totally brainwashed.

Becky

January 13th, 2010
1:30 pm

@Liz, what is wrong with a little girl wearing lip gloss? You do know that you can get it with just about no color in it and it’s basically the same as chap stick? My little one is 7 and she has been wearing lip gloss since she was about 3-4..

Like someone else said, I don’t really care for long hair on a boy, but if the parents want him to have it, more power to them..My little one is 7 and he always says that he wants his hair cut like a mans (short)..

I saw the picture of the Dad, not sure what is so ugh about that either..He looks like a normal person to me..

Tiger needs me on his PR team

January 13th, 2010
1:40 pm

I don’t have a problem with dress codes as long as there are logical, objective reasons behind them.

“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”

This reason is BUNK. Has anyone seen a picture of a little known guy named EINSTEIN. Some people discounted his intelligence and ability in University because he was “that guy that didn’t comb his hair and seemed disheveled”….then he came up with the Theory of Relativity and went on to win a Nobel Prize in Physics in 1921.

So if I were Texas, I would come up with better logic than people who groom themselves outside the norm are destined to be unproductive members of society. If that is the best they can do, then they should just concentrate on the behavior of the kid…if he’s a good kid and well behaved, judge him by that. If other kids tease him in class, discipline those kids…they’re the ones with the problem.

Stephanie

January 13th, 2010
1:55 pm

OMG, this is ridiculous! Males can have long hair now if they want and females can wear pants! Update the stupid dress codes. Unless it affects someone’s health or something really important, who cares? Typical of Texas though. They want to regulate people’s sexuality, hairstyles, clothing and religion, but don’t believe in regulation of businesses . . . ?!?!? People should have the right to raise their children how they believe (within reason). If it’s legal to teach your children that God hates gay people then it should absolutely be ok to send your little boy to school with longer hair. I figured his hair was down to his rear end or something but it’s not even that long anyway. I find it just ridiculous that this is even an issue.

Jody Maley

January 13th, 2010
1:57 pm

As a mom of six (4boys and 2girls) I think that its ridiculous that the school is enforcing this.
My dad is a ‘retired teacher’, I went to a strict private school (someone had mentioned this above) & we had a dress code…of course…we also knew before-hand what the school’s dress code rules were.

It seems the young boy is doing this not just for a ‘fashion statement’ but for a good need as well…I would be proud of my kids wanting to grow out there hair to give to ‘cancer patients’.
Kudos to the young man…who at the age of four…stands up for his own morals and wants to do good in the world!

oneofeach4me

January 13th, 2010
1:59 pm

Yay Tiger!! I finally have some back up in here! lol

Tiger needs me on his PR team

January 13th, 2010
2:07 pm

@1ofeach4me…glad I can help.

Again though..I think there are some very good reasons for a dress code. I wish my kid’s school would implement a uniform policy. I would like to see that applied to the teachers as well. I would like for every kid to be in an environment where they didn’t see who had more money, a more comfortable life. I would like for the affluent kids to not be able to go to school with $200 jeans and contribute to this MTV My Supersweet 16 mentality. I would like every kid to know that for the 8 hours a day that they attended school, in this small way, they would all be equals. I would like to know that if a kid or adult was not in a uniform that a very big red flag would be raised to actually ask that person what their intention was at the school. (I live in CO…Columbine still reverberates here.)

Those, INHO, are all very legitimate reasons to have a dress code. But to say if you dress funny you won’t become a productive member of society is like saying no one can wear yellow because the principal slipped on a banana peel and broke her/his leg. It makes no sense.

Becky

January 13th, 2010
2:09 pm

@Tiger, I agree with you on that..The guy that owns the company that I work for is 75, wears his hair in a ponytail and up until about 5-6 years ago, rode a Harley to work every day..The way that a person looks
doesn’t make them useless to society..

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

January 13th, 2010
2:14 pm

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http://blogs.ajc.com/momania/2010/01/13/how-families-can-help-haitian-quake-victims/

Tiger needs me on his PR team

January 13th, 2010
2:19 pm

awwww becky..you’re just supporting me because you want me to cook you dinner!

oneofeach4me

January 13th, 2010
2:28 pm

@Tiger, that was the point I was trying to make earlier. I too would love to see my child’s school revert to uniforms. I just think that regulating hair length is taking it a wee bit too far.

Becky

January 13th, 2010
2:29 pm

Tiger, that would be nice, BUT I love to cook, so I might cook for you..
I’m just like others, the school should pick another battle..Long hair isn’t a major issue..

Trust me Tiger...

January 13th, 2010
2:42 pm

…Becky may be a cougar, but you ain’t no cub – so, she is just too old for you!

Jane

January 13th, 2010
2:46 pm

Hey, whether you agree or disagree with the dress code – it’s in place and it’s the rules. They should be followed.

Those that don’t like it should go to the school board and try to have it changed. BUT, in the meantime, you should abide by it as it’s the RULE.

Teach your kids to break any rule they don’t like and mayhem follows.

kharma strong

January 13th, 2010
2:52 pm

email the Mesquite Independent School District directly, please go to: http://www.mesquiteisd.org/emailus.asp