The family of Michael Trimble, a 4-year-old African American child with long curly hair, says the Tatum Independent School District in Texas is enforcing a discriminatory dressing code against him and other black students, according to KETK.
Now, thousands of people have signed a petition asking for change.
Randi Woodley, Trimble’s grandmother, said she became aware there was a problem with how she styled the boy’s hair in August at a ‘Meet the Teacher’ meeting, the TV station reported.
Woodley says the principal proceeded to tell her that her grandson’s hair was too long. She then met with the superintendent where she was presented with three options, she said in an interview with the Longview News-Journal.
“He told me that I could either cut it, braid it and pin it up, or put my grandson in a dress and send him to school, and when prompted my grandson must say he’s a girl,” Woodley said, according to the newspaper.
District policy says, “Student’s hair shall be clean and well groomed at all times and shall not obstruct vision. No extreme style or color (neon,etc…) Only natural hair color shall be allowed. No symbols, letters, or extreme designs cut in the hair shall be permitted. No ponytails, ducktails, rat-tails,male bun or puffballs shall be allowed on male students. ALL male hair of any type SHALL NOT extend below the top of a t-shirt collar , as it lays naturally.”
Parent Kambry Cox has a kindergartner with dreadlocks in the district and says she wants her son to not be judged based on how his hair looks.
“You don’t have to change to fit anyone’s stereotypes or you don’t have to be anyone that you don’t want to be individually,” Cox told CBS 19.
A group of parents and others angered by the school district’s dress code went to a Monday school board meeting to voice their concerns, CBS19 reported. Video from the meeting shows people holding signs that read “is my hair distracting you?” and “why is my hair different from hers?”
A Change.org petition was also created, asking those who were interested in signing to “tell Tatum, Texas we will not be bullied into cutting his hair.” As of Friday afternoon, the petition has more than 4,000 signatures with the goal being 5,000.
The district’s next meeting will be held in October, according to multiple outlets. However, it is unclear if any changes will be made or discussed at the meeting.
“Attempts to contact district officials for comment were unsuccessful,” according to the Longview News-Journal.