An African-American girl is facing expulsion from her private school in Orlando, FL because administrators want her to cut and shape her "natural hair", reports Local 10. The girl, Vanessa VanDyke, is 12 years old.
According to VanDyke, she's been given a week to cut her hair, or, if she refuses, will be forced to leave Faith Christian Academy, where she's been attending since the third grade.
So what's all the fuss about her hair, anyway? According to the school's rules, Dyke's hair is a "distraction," and this isn't permitted on school grounds. The student handbook reads: "Hair must be a natural color and must not be a distraction", citing mohawks, rat tails, and shaved designs as examples of unacceptable hairstyles.
Except VanDyke's hair is neither a mohawk nor a rat tail. It's puffy, sure, but that's not abnormal or uncommon. Or weird, or a "distraction."
VanDyke and her mother, Sabrina Kent, are standing their ground, though, with neither willing to change the girl's hair. "It says that I'm unique," VanDyke told Local 10. "First of all, it's puffy and I like it that way. I know people will tease me about it because it's not straight. I don't fit in."
Kent added, "A distraction to one person is not a distraction to another. You can have a kid come in with pimples on his face. Are you going to call that a distraction?"
VanDyke says her hair only became an issue after she and her family complained about other students teasing and bullying her because of her hair. "It seems to me that they're blaming her," Kent told Local 10.
VanDyke doesn't want to leave her friends, saying that she would be "depressed" about it, but that she'd prefer that over being told she should change her hair.