The NAACP's Legal Defense Fund has asked Cedar Grove Christian Academy in Philadelphia to end its long-standing ban on students wearing big Afros and dreadlocks.
The NAACP-LDF says that such bans constitute as natural hair discrimination and enforcing the ban would violate state and federal laws.
According to a copy of the school's student handbook,boys' hair "must be neat, clean, and well groomed in style. Hair should be off the ears, clean around the collar, and may not hang below the eyebrows when in a natural position. No tails, unnatural hair colors, big Afros, dreadlocks, or punk styles. Cornrows are acceptable if kept short with no more than one-inch long braids at the end of the cornrow."
The school says that violations of the school's dress code are met with warnings at first, but subsequent violations could result in disciplinary actions.
"Penalty may include: loss of informal dress privileges, demerits, or loss of admittance to class," the school's student handbook says.
Scripps News has reached out to Cedar Grove Christian Academy for its reaction.
In its letter to the schools, the NAACP-LDP cited a 2021 report by WPVI-TV that found Black students are far more likely than other students to be suspended for discretionary reasons, such as violations of dress code.
"Exclusion from extracurricular activities, like sports teams, due to culturally-intolerant dress and grooming policies also presents concerns because of the positive correlation between extracurricular activities and development," wrote the NAACP-LDF in its letter to the school.
The NAACP has noted efforts to ban hair discrimination. In 2019, California passed the CROWN Act, which bans discrimination based on a person's hairstyle or texture.
There have been efforts to implement a similar bill across the U.S. In 2022, the House of Representatives passed the Crown Act of 2022 by a 235-189 margin with 14 Republicans joining 221 Democrats in support. The bill, however, did not get moved in the Senate.
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