An African-American schoolgirl in Florida is facing expulsion if she doesn't cut her hair. According to WKMG Local 6, Vanessa VanDyke, 12, has one week to decide whether to cut her hair or leave Faith Christian Academy in Orlando.
Vanessa doesn’t plan to obey. "It says that I'm unique," she said. "First of all, it's puffy and I like it that way. I know people will tease me about it because it's not straight. I don't fit in."
As WKMG Local 6 points out, the dress code in the student handbook of Faith Christian Academy states that “Hair must be a natural color and must not be a distraction," singling out hair styles like mohawks and rat tails as an example of a “distraction.”
"A distraction to one person is not a distraction to another," said Vanessa's mother, Sabrina Kent. "You can have a kid come in with pimples on his face. Are you going to call that a distraction?"
According to WKMG Local 6, Vanessa has been sporting a large, natural hair style since beginning of the school year, but school officials became aware of the situation after Kent complained about her daughter getting bullied and teased at school about it.
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"There have been bullies in the school," Kent said. "There have been people teasing her about her hair, and it seems to me that they're blaming her."
"I'm depressed about leaving my friends and people that I've known for a while, but I'd rather have that than the principals and administrators picking on me and saying that I should change my hair," Vanessa said.
"I'm going to fight for my daughter," Kent said. "If she wants her hair like that, she will keep her hair like that. There are people out there who may think that natural hair is not appropriate. She is beautiful the way she is."
Faith Christian Academy has not commented on the situation.