Okla. school board alters dress code to allow dreadlocks

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This Sept. 8, 2013 photo shows Tiana Parker, 7, who was removed from the Deborah Brown Community School due to the school’s policy against her natural hairstyle, poses for a photo outside the Tulsa, Okla. school.  Photo/Tulsa World, Cory Young (AP Photo)

by Krishana Davis

(NNPA)–A Tulsa, Okla. charter school has reversed a dress code under which it dismissed a 7-year-old for wearing dreadlocks.

The independent governing board for the Deborah Brown Community School voted 4-0 Sept. 9 to rescind a policy that banning dreadlocks, afros and other “faddish styles” of hair.

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This Sept. 8, 2013 photo shows Tiana Parker, 7, who was removed from the Deborah Brown Community School due to the school’s policy against her natural hairstyle, poses for a photo outside the Tulsa, Okla. school.  Photo/Tulsa World, Cory Young (AP Photo)

The action came after Tiana Parker, 7, was told her hairstyle was not allowed at the mostly Black charter school that is associated with Langston University. The dismissal drew national attention.

Last month, Tiana’s parents told Tulsa’s FOX 23 that they had been summoned into the administrator’s office at the charter school and told that their daughter’s locs violated the school’s dress code against “faddish” hairstyles.

According to the former school board policy, “hairstyles such as dreadlocks, afros, mohawks, and other faddish styles are unacceptable.”

The second grader’s family spoke out, stating Tiana has had locs for a few years and this was her second year attending the school.

Natural hair advocates across the nation also took a stand against the school’s policy and supported Tiana.

Nikki Walton, natural hair blogger and best-selling author, posted several stories about the situation on her blog. MSNBC anchor Melissa Harris-Perry dedicated a segment on her show to Tiana called “To A Girl Whose Hair Was Deemed ‘Unacceptable.’”

“We Love Tiana & Her Hair,” said a Facebook page started by Lana Boone, 26, a Silver Spring, Md.- based natural hair advocate and founder of Kurly Klips. The page drew more than 1,500 fans in just a few days.

Boone said she found out about Tiana’s story when her friend, who works at BuzzFeed, a website that looks for viral content, sent her an article detailing the situation. She said she saw the story all over her social media feeds and wanted to create a place for people to go and send positive messages to Tiana to offer her emotional support.

“The page was built out of both anger and love,” said Boone. “How dare a school administration who’s suppose to build up children tear down a child because of her hair.”

Boone said a school policy that bans afros and afro puffs is not a ban against a hairstyle, but a blow against “hair texture.”

“I wanted to show Tiana how much support she has not only from women and women and color, but from people around the world.”

Boone said she initially asked fans of the page to send their messages directly to Tiana, but because many people began posting their thoughts and feelings onto the page, she began highlighting messages left by fans.

Johnye Gober posted on the page, “I just want you to know that my heart broke when I found out how you were treated. I have two girls & I would have been really hurt if anyone at the school made them cry over their appearance…”

Another fan, Shelly-Anne Patricia Cupid, posted, “Tiana, your hair is beautiful and so are you! I wish I was smart enough to have had locks when I was your age. Wear them proudly and love yourself as you are!”

 

http://www.afro.com/sections/news/afro_briefs/story.htm?storyid=79729&utm_source=AFRO+Weekend+News+Wrap-up+E-Blast%2C+September+15%2C+2013&utm_campaign=weekly+eblast&utm_medium=email

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