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

Tiger needs me on his PR team

January 13th, 2010
2:52 pm

@Jane….glad you weren’t an advisor for Rosa Parks.

Tiger needs me on his PR team

January 13th, 2010
3:01 pm

….or the founding fathers……

Tiger needs me on his PR team

January 13th, 2010
3:05 pm

……or Susan B Anthony who was charged, and tried, by the United States government for voting in the 1872 presidential of the earliest figures in the women’s suffrage movement…..

Tiger needs me on his PR team

January 13th, 2010
3:08 pm

…..or Jesus…..


January 13th, 2010
3:09 pm

@Trust me Tiger, I’m not a cougar, nor was that in any way a come on to Tiger..He seems to be a very happily married man as I am a very happily married woman..Besides that I have no intentions of (unlike a coworker of mine) to travel halfway across the US to “hook” up with a married

Tiger needs me on his PR team

January 13th, 2010
3:11 pm

Or John Scopes……you may have to google this one….

Tiger needs me on his PR team

January 13th, 2010
3:13 pm

Or Galileo…who went against church rules by stating the sun was actually the center of the solar system and was accused of blasphemy…

Tiger needs me on his PR team

January 13th, 2010
3:14 pm

Imagine how great the world would have been if all those folks had just followed the rules instead of trying to talk to the establishment in an effort to change the rules……I’m imagining it now…and it’s filled with tyranny and oppression.

Tiger needs me on his PR team

January 13th, 2010
3:18 pm

or Nelson Mandela……I’m trying to stop….really! I just keep coming up with these great rule breakers in history!!!


January 13th, 2010
3:42 pm

What makes people think that they are not married?? Just because they don’t share a last name doesn’t mean anything. Also, the video is here


January 13th, 2010
3:49 pm

Outstanding examples Tiger!

Tiger needs me on his PR team

January 13th, 2010
3:54 pm

@1ofE….well thankya….thankyaverymuch…..OHHH..that reminds me…ELVIS…great rule breaker on whatever that show was that he was told to not shake his hips!


January 13th, 2010
4:39 pm

Okay, I went to school in Texas and graduated in the early 70’s. The same rule was in effect then. The way it was gotten around was the boys with longer hair would buy obnoxious, cheap, short wigs and wear them. No problem, apparently the school board considered them way less distracting. And technically they were following the dress code. Perhaps that is what these parents should do. Texas really needs to move into the current century.

Gov is Bigger in Texas

January 13th, 2010
5:48 pm

The school board in Mesquite, Texas is a dictatorship, demanding that a kid cut his hair short and deny him the right to express himself. Another male student was also suspended from this school for wearing tight jeans, again being denied the right to express himself. I wonder if they make female students cut their hair or regulate how tight their pants can be? Somehow I doubt it, and that is discrimination against male students if female students are not made to follow the same rule. However, it is interesting to see all these anti-government conservatives defending the school district and their stupid rules. Little do they know that a public school is a government entity, and this is government interfering in the daily life of this kid by personally telling him he will not get educated if he looks a certain way, and will be isolated from his friends for his appearance. The conservatives complain about government interference in their daily lives, so why are most not complaining about this, as this is government dictating what this kid can do, and dictating to the parents what they must do as well. This is the land of the free, and freedom of expression is one of our rights. A publicly funded entity cannot dictate to a kid how long their hair is or how tight their pants can be, that is why we have private entities that we allow to set rules such as this. It is called freedom, and anyone on the right should be outraged that this publicly funded school is telling this kid what to do. In some parts of the Middle East they force women to wear burqas and cover their faces. We are fighting a war against people with these ideal. What this school is doing to this poor boy is along those same lines as what those Middle Eastern governments are doing to women, as in both cases they are demanding that they look a certain way they see fit or suffer the consequences. Let the boy wear his hair long and mind your own business, Mesquite school board. This is America, not the Middle East!

Tiger needs me on his PR team

January 13th, 2010
6:15 pm

@ GOV is bigger in texas…not that I entirely disagree with your rant, but I think you’re a little off base on some things. Publicly funded entities can indeed dictate to people what their appearance will be. The military is one of them. Entirely funded through taxpayer dollars and can tell the members when to eat, when to sleep, what to wear, and what to do. Now before you make the case that it is an all volunteer force and people elect to abide by those rules, you can go back to the days of the draft, where people were forced to enter the military. The draft didn’t end because it was illegal…the draft ended because it was unpopular. Police and Fire Departments are other examples. So that blanket statement may have taken you a little over on the “rant” side of your point.

Warrior Woman

January 13th, 2010
6:27 pm

Schools shouldn’t be in the business of regulating hair or dress beyond issues of safety and classroom disruption. However, there are constructive and destructive ways to push for change, and agreeing to a school’s dress code, as parents typically have to do at the beginning of the school year, then complaining about it doesn’t seem particularly constructive.

Gary klahr

January 13th, 2010
7:23 pm

I aM shocked BY THE conformist attitudes here. You can NOT judge a book by its cover. Unifoirms are un-american. long hair is a matter of PERSONAL choice—not subject to gov’t RULES!!!! Hasn’t anyone thought that bad nutrition is FAR more important on how a kid does at school—so why don’t a;ll you pro-rule people insist that parents srrve a gov’t-approved breakfast before school???????????????????? we have TOO MANY CONFORMISTs—not too few. The best & the brightest are like these kids—they ewnd up at APPLE & INTEL—not in jail.
I’m sure it will surprise most of you to know that MOST of the kids fifghting uiniforms and long-hair bans are honor roll students; they obey REAsonable RULES; IUF WE OBEYED THE “rULES” IN THIS COUNTRY, OUR “PRESIDENT” WOULD BE qUEEN eLIZABETH—really—REMEMBER THE dECLARATION OF iNDEPENDENCE.

Gary klahr

January 13th, 2010
7:39 pm

And there is NO evidence that the parents AGREED to the hair rules when they enrolled the kid. schools TELL—not ask–prents what the rules are. You pro-rule people are SOOOO hypocritical; most of you are “tea party” rypes in your OTHER LIFE, I bet!!!!!


January 13th, 2010
8:09 pm

Gary klahr – parents agreed to the rules when they enrolled kid into school. I honestly think parents is the problem here as they teach a kid to go against the rules and not work to change the rules. Kid can get a 1 in hair trim and then campaign against the rule, get followers and then change it.

I agree that dress code needs to be updated, but these rules were followed by so many students before this kid and there is no reason for this kid not to follow them. A rule is a rule and a law is a law. You can argue that speeding limit should be increased since we have more advanced cars right now, but if you speed, you still get a ticket (or arrested for that matter) for one simple reason – this is the current law.

Honestly, i would be concerned about this kid’s vision – looking at this picture i do not know how he can see anything.

Gary klahr

January 13th, 2010
8:40 pm

WrONG WRONG—the parents NEVER agreed to these rules; this isauthoritarian dictatorship; it is none of the school’s business unless they can show actual distraction of other kids—-very v e r y unlikely among 4 yr olds. you-all are too stupid to be allowed to vote.

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androgyny rocks

January 14th, 2010
3:46 am

The main issue is separate dress code rules for boys and girls. Any hair requirements should be unisex.

Why this fixation on the gender binary? Anyone who says he “looks like a girl” are showing their own fixation on the stereotype that long hair = female. Sheesh, I thought we got over this silly issue of long hair in the 1970s. Remember Ray Stevens? “We shouldn’t care about the length of his hair, or the color of his skin, don’t worry about what shows from without, but the love that lives within.” (from memory, may not be word for word exact)

The parents should file a sex discrimination lawsuit. This is a public school, funded with tax dollars, right? If so, the should should not discriminate based on sex or gender.


January 14th, 2010
6:42 am

@ Tiger — Ed Sullivan Show. (And I don’t think either of us is old enough to have been there).

@ GOV — MOST of the posters have not just said “shut up and conform”. They have said there are better ways to try and challenge the rule and have it changed.


January 14th, 2010
6:53 am

@ Tiger your examples of rule breakers (who probably are held in esteem in history because they succeed in changing the rules–I doubt we would remember them fondly if they hadn’t) are all ADULTS.

We are talking about a kid. A kid does need to learn to follow the rules. Especially a 4 yo.

Would you want your son trying civil disobedience to his Kindergarten teacher because the directions say cut out the circle and he chose to not to do the assignment? Or they were told to sit in a circle and he chose to stand by the door? It is very similar in the types of adult protests you mention.


January 14th, 2010
7:30 am

Um….I did just sign a form and agreed to these rules for my child, who is senior in a public high school:

she will have a 1 inch binder to take to class and keep her notes in said binder
she will not sleep in class
she will not eat in class
she will not use her cell phone or have it visible in class

among other things…..

@ Gary …what is up with your caps lock? Have you ever lived in Texas? We lived there for 8 years before moving to Ga 20 years ago. Texas folks are great people and I love working with them! They do not only give us oil…we eat quite a bit of their produce/beef too!


January 14th, 2010
9:36 am

Did you see the interview? Kid was sitting/standing on a table. Of course parents raise child as they wish, but i think they better get a grip before it is too late.

Tiger needs me on his PR team

January 14th, 2010
10:50 am

@FCM — you completely missed the point of what I was trying to say. My point was that rules are fine, when the rules are created from sensible and well thought out reasons. The reasons presented by the school board were neither sensible nor well thought out. My examples were adults, and I’ll give you that is a significant difference, but when you take into consideration that what they spoke out against were rules that were founded on ignorance, I think that ties in my point.


January 14th, 2010
11:19 am

Liz, nope I’m not getting taken to task for any of that. Number 1 – I don’t have children and Number 2 – I think it is totally ridiculous for children to wear makeup. We had a discussion last year on Fancy Nancy and some people were stating that their kids, nieces, cousins, etc. were wearing make up in the 4th grade and even younger. One lady said that she put “little girl pink” lipstick on her 5 year old. So, nope I’m not taking that charge.


January 14th, 2010
12:05 pm

@ Tiger…yes they both have rules that are found in ignorence. However teaching the kid at this age to do this is confusing. The child has no way to get what rules are truly stupid and which are not. The parents voiced their opinion to the school and the school made arrangements to accomodate the kid. That is a reasonable solution in that they did not force the parent to cut the kids hair. The fact the kid is getting private 1:1 education on a tax dollar is a different subject.

I could careless how long the hair is of the kids in my children’s classes. I don’t care if they wear crocs/flip flops or even if Susie’s mom lets her wear full on make up to 1st grade. It is a parent’s job to parent. However all of the things I just mentioned are governed by my County School Board and the Handbook comes home every year with a notice I have to sign stating that I have a copy and understand that I am responsible for enforcing these things with my kid. I read the dress code every year and then keep it in a drawer until school is out. It is refrence material if I am unsure about anything.

You might find this obnoxious or find it humorous or stupid: My eldest was in daycare and her birthday came up — she was to be 2. She was very excited about getting cupcakes with pink and purple frosting. The Director overheard and said we don’t allow cupcakes because of the mess. That is when I said to her “Well like I tell my children some rules are stupid but they have to be followed.” I got a pack of cookies from the bakery and put icing in between them making cookie sandwiches of them. The daycare never said a word. My husband laughed like mad (and he was the more rebellious of us) and said something like “Are you just being contrary or are you really wanting to fight this?” I just smiled and said “Maybe. Mostly I see it as an act of Civil Disobedience against a rule that sucks for kids.”

By the way, the daycare changed the rule.


January 14th, 2010
3:25 pm

Everyone keeps harping on the kid sitting on the table, did no one stop to think that the photographer had him sit that way for a better shot? Happens a lot with photos..


January 14th, 2010
9:53 pm

I don’t get why it matters if he does sit on the table…Jumping on furniture is one thing but sitting? If food were on it I get it. Standing on it I could understandt he concern. Sitting on it is no biggie.

We used to sit on the kitchen counters and talk to my Mom while she made dinner. As long as we didn’t sit near the food. The kitchen did not have a breakfast bar or eat in area. So we could stand the whole time or sit on a counter. If we put a chair in the room she said we were in her space.

I have sat on mine here at home. Course mine is nothing expensive or antique. I would understand if that were the case.

I FINALLY bought myself furniture (nice stuff) this year for my living room and I am real particular about it.

julio luis

January 15th, 2010
8:14 am

Crew Cut hair should be worn by ALL Males until they are 18, and out of the house !

Dress Code Receiving National Attention

January 15th, 2010
8:48 am

[...] you can see how occasional compromises can be healthy and needed. In one Texas town recently, the school dress code is receiving national attention, and a lack of accepting any compromise has landed one little boy in [...]


January 16th, 2010
11:47 am

From one teacher’s point of view….if you make it a big deal then it is a big deal. I have taught many kids who looked a little strange on the outside (long hair, piercings, strange clothes combinations) but were really good kids. I’ve also taught the kids who were exceptional on the outside (clean cut, great clothes, etc.) and were horrible children. Judging a book by its cover, are we? My son went through his long hair, grungy clothes days and now he is a United States Marine-great kid, great morals, driven…go figure. I know that rules are rules and if it is one, his parents should follow it. My point is that the rule itself is outdated and a little superficial. I think rules about dress codes should be in place for safety, hygiene and true disruptions (like cell phones ringing). Where I teach we have different rules for our 5th graders than our K-2 students because their bodies are different. That’s in place to keep them from indecent exposure. The hair length rule is just silly to me.

[...] Should hair length be regulated by school dress codes? [...]


January 19th, 2010
1:37 am

He is too cute. Sad that this is even a story – it’s hair so I don’t see the big deal.
@Liz what a judgemental person you are. His dad being a tattoo artist has nothing to do with the issue. Jesus I am going to pray for you.

ron deyoung

January 21st, 2010
4:25 pm

RULES are for a CIVILIZED society. Cut the damn kids hair and stop all the whining.


July 5th, 2010
11:25 pm

last time I checked we still live in the United States and we are still a free country!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1 If the kid wants to have long hair and his parents support him THEN IT IS NO ONE ELSES DAMM BUSINESSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!
ESPECIALLY NOT THE GOVERNMENT!!! I would let my kids hair grow to the ground just to bug them!!


July 7th, 2010
7:31 pm

the kid’s hair has no affect whatsoever on his or anyone else’s education. so leave him alone and let his hair be. now if was bright pink or something, i could see how that would be distracting, but it’s not.