No. Nope. Absolutely not. I’m sorry, Faith Christian Academy of Orlando, expulsion is exactly the wrong way to respond to the harassment of a student.
“But Kazzy,” I’ll pretend you object, “Bullies and their like SHOULD face expulsion for their behavior.”
Perhaps. But the student who faced expulsion was not those engaging in the harassment, but instead it was the one who was the target of their teasing.
Vanessa Van Dyke wore her hair long and natural, resulting in the look seen here:
Well, her classmates didn’t think so, teasing her for her hair. When the family complained, the school responded by declaring her hair a “distraction”, thus making it in violation of the dress code and requiring her to cut it off or face expulsion.
After being called out, the school has since walked back the threat of expulsion, instead insisting that she simply style it differently. A statement released by the school said: “We are not asking her to put products in her hair or to cut her hair. We are asking her to style her hair within the guidelines according to the school handbook.”
Translation: Be more like the other kids so they won’t tease you.
What a horrible, horrible message. Shame on you, Faith Christian Academy of Orlando. I’m tempted to make you one of my Things That Shouldn’t Exist.
Note: I’m not going into depth on the potential racial angle to this story (including the apparent ignorance of or disregard for the damage that straightening hair like Vanessa’s can cause) because the school’s actions are abhorrent regardless of the racial insensitivities that might be peppering the school’s response. One of their students — their charges — came to them with complaints about being teased for her appearance and their response was that she should look different. Ugh.