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Red Hair, Who Cares?

Just because you don’t like a rule doesn’t mean you don’t have to follow it — this is especially true for kids in their formative years who need to learn about deference, discipline, safety, health and integrity. Sorry if we don’t eat cupcakes for breakfast, but that rule is in place for a reason (although, let’s be honest, a chocolate-chip muffin is really just a cupcake in disguise).

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Schools have lots of rules that kids may not like, such as no smart phones in class or smoking cigarettes on campus. The rules might be in place to help ensure kids pay close attention or not endanger the welfare of themselves or those around them. But no matter why the rules exist, they need to be respected.

Who knows why the Muscle Shoals school system in Alabama has a rule against “distracting” or “disruptive” hairstyles, but the fact is that they do. Hayleigh Black, 16, apparently didn’t know that, because if she did, she probably wouldn’t have chosen to dye her hair red. On the first day of school this year, she was sent home for having hair “‘too disruptive’ to remain in the building.” Except this year marks the third one in a row that Black has colored her hair a “vibrant” shade of red. However, this is also the first time it has ever been an issue with school administrators.

It remains unclear how a head full of red hair would be detrimental to anyone’s safety or distract from enhancing their knowledge.

According to ABC News, the Muscle Shoals superintendent said the rule is in place to “provide a safe environment conducive to learning.”

It remains unclear how a head full of red hair would be detrimental to anyone’s safety or distract from enhancing their knowledge. The school’s principal said the policy “very rarely ever comes up as an issue,” but there have been girls in addition to Black who’ve also been sent home for their hair color.

Black dyed her hair to a less distracting color after the incident so she wouldn’t miss too much school, but her mom told ABC that since then, “She’s been a little down. She misses her hair color.”

“She's a kid,” her mom said. “I dyed my hair when I was her age. I was excited it was that, [that] it wasn't a tattoo that she wanted or piercings, or something. There are so many girls that do it and there could be worse things. As long as she's a good student, hair is the least of my worries.”

However, the good news seems to be that this is, in fact, one of the school’s biggest problems. According to the Board of Education in Muscle Shoals, the school places in the top 10 districts in the state for reading and math test scores, parental support is strong, and it’s not unusual for 90 percent of high school students there to go on to college.

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If students at Muscle Shoals want to express their personal style in a way that doesn’t show too much cleavage, sleeve tattoos, unusual body piercings or excessive leg — and they’re getting good grades — shouldn’t the school be supportive?

There are real problems that real redheads have. Black, however, is not a real redhead. Her choice of hair color should not be a real problem. Yes, she broke a rule. But if this is the school’s ugliest issue, it would seem that they should celebrate the beauty of that fact instead.

Image via Kim Boyd

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