One Rastafarian boy from South Plaquemines High School in Louisiana has been banned from returning to school until he cuts his dreadlocks, reports the Raw Story.
When classes resumed on Aug. 8, the teen was sent home from school after school officials said his hair violated school policy because his dreads extended beyond the collar of his shirt. After returning to school the following week with his hair pinned up, school officials told the young man that he was still in violation with school dress code and was asked to go home.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Louisiana has come to the teen’s defense, writing a letter to the Plaquemines Parish School Board stating that, “The wearing of dreadlocks (for the student) is akin to the wearing of a religious icon by another student.” The student’s mother also provided the school’s superintendent with a letter from the First Church of Rastafar I indicating that the boy’s family were members and explaining the importance of dreadlocks to their faith, but the superintendent told her that the letter wasn’t sufficient enough.
“We would object if the school were to tell a Christian student they could not wear a cross or if it were to permit the wearing of religious icons of one faith and prohibited those of another faith,” ACLU said. “In discriminating against (the student’s) religious beliefs, the school is expressing a preference for certain religions, which is unacceptable.”
Although the school hasn’t formally issued a suspension to the student, the teen has missed 10 out of the first 11 days of the school year because of his dreadlocks. The ACLU is seeking a formal hearing to request a dress code exemption for the teen and a reversal of any disciplinary actions taken against him related to his hair.