Hair discrimination sparks community conversation

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Jackson, Mich. (WLNS)– Tonight, community leaders are hosting a forum to discuss racial bias in school policies after 8-year-old Marian Scott wasn’t allowed to take her school picture because her hair color was against the Paragon Charter Academy handbook.

“It’s terribly impacted this child. She’s already been pulled out of school, she’s asked her mother to no longer do her hair in any pretty way,” Statewide Organizer for Just Leadership USA said.

After Crampton heard about Scott’s situation, Crampton felt that this was about more than one specific school’s policy.

“It is a national conversation. I think there’s been a history of racial bias when it comes to school policy when governing dress code, hairstyle, things of that nature,” Crampton said.

And now that’s it’s happening locally, he feels that it needs to be talked about.

Paragon Charter Academy’s handbook states that extreme hairstyles are not permitted and that hair must be of natural tones. That’s where Crampton said the question comes into play.

“When you say unnatural hair colors, unnatural to who?” Crampton said.

Phil Johnson’s son, who also attends Paragon Charter Academy, was allowed to have his school picture taken with a blonde dyed mohawk.

He also said the same day Scott was excluded from school pictures, another boy showed up with a blonde mohawk. Even though the handbook states that mohawks are not allowed, he was still allowed to get his picture taken.

Members of tonight’s panel include diversity management consultant Katena Cain, Wayne State University professor Thomas Pedroni and Marian’s father, Doug Scott. State Rep. Sarah Anthony, D-Lansing.

“I have been hearing stories across the city of Lansing, across the region, across the state, and across the country about men and women who have experienced discrimination all because of how their hair is worn,” Rep. Anthony said.

Rep Anthony introduced a bill in July that would eliminate discrimination on the basis of hair.

“You want to be able to go to school to learn, to get an education, not to be discriminated against on the basis of how you wear your hair,” Rep. Anthony said.

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