School appears to demand little boy cut off his dreadlocks and his dad filmed the whole thing
A six-year-old boy was discriminated against on his first day of school due to his hairstyle. The teachers at the Christian private school in Florida insisted that the school's policy states that male students aren't allowed to have hair longer than their shoulders, and reasoned that the only way they would accept the young boy would be if he cut off his dreadlocks.
The boy's father, Clinton Stanley, recorded the confrontation during which his son – who undoubtedly had the first-day-of-school nerves anyway – was made to feel ashamed due to his hairstyle. The clip caught the attention of the internet, with many suggesting the school was behaving in a racist manner.
Clinton Jr, six, is seen in the video standing well-groomed in his new school uniform, with a forlorn look on his face as he stands by the offices of A Book's Christian Academy while the adults argue over his hair.
His father, audibly emotional throughout the eight-minute video, asks if he can braid his son's hair to keep it above the ears, to which one of the teachers responded: "I don't think so". "It’s in our handbook that it has to be above the ears," she says.
Mr Stanley claims to have known that there was a dress code but that he wasn't told that dreadlocks are prohibited. The school's handbook online states that boys are not allowed to wear “dreads, Mohawks, designs, unnatural colour, or unnatural designs.”
"Everybody’s hair is at their shoulders," Mr Stanley says, pointing out that the female teachers have their hair longer than their shoulders. They repeat that it's that’s just the rule, and that there's nothing they can do about it.
At one point, he asks another teacher if he can't just braid it up, to which she responds "no sir, we want it cut". "No dreadlocks," he concludes.
"He's ready to go to school but he can't," Mr Stanley said. He chose to immediately unenroll his son, who had been accepted to the private Christian school under a scholarship. “First day of school and I have to withdraw my son... this is very disrespectful and biased."
The video was shared widely online, many outraged by the apparent racism displayed by the school's intolerance for the boy's hairstyle. One person shared an image of a white boy from the school who appears in a promotional video, noting that his hair is longer than his ears.
“If a kid has dreadlocks, that’s your personal standard," Clinton Jr's father told WESH 2 News. "Meaning, that’s a personal problem you haven’t overcome, because 95 percent of the kids who have dreadlocks are African American."
Though the school appears to prohibit black culture in the form of cultural hairstyles, the school's director, John Book, told WESH 2 News that he's “obviously not a racist” because most of the school's students are black.
One of the school's administrators, Sue Book, told the Washington Post that since the video was uploaded, the phones have been ringing with constant calls, including death threats.
“They’re calling me everything under the sun,” she said. “I’m getting it from everywhere, all parts of the country. Most of them do not speak intelligently. I bear with them until they start using the four-letter words. Then I’ll lay the phone down and play Christian music.”
She defended the rule because it has been in place since 1971.
Thankfully, Clinton Jr was accepted into another school very quickly, who welcomed him dreadlocks and all.