A fundamentalist Christian school in Florida has denied admission to a six-year-old boy because he had dreadlocks, proving once again that rigid Biblical principles encourage discrimination and closed-mindedness.
A Book’s Christian Academy, a small private school, turned the first-grader away on the first day of classes due to his haircut, according to his father, Clinton Stanley Sr. The school’s administrator, however, defended the move saying that it’s a standard Christian school rule and it hasn’t kept other black children from enrolling there.
“I respect their rules, but it’s not right,” said Clinton Stanley Sr. “Allow kids to come as they are. You are a Christian school. In the Bible it says, come as you are,” he added. “You deny a kid an education on his hair?”
Stanley used his cell phone to film his reaction after he took his son — dressed in the school uniform of navy pants, a button-down shirt and tie — to the campus and was told the boy could not go to class without first getting a haircut.
His video, posted on Facebook early Monday, has been viewed about 78,000 times and has prompted thousands of comments, many supportive but some also noting such hair rules are common in private religious schools or questioning why he chose the school.
That rule is especially interesting because Jesus himself is often depicted with long hair, and Leviticus actually warns men against cutting their hair too much. (Yes, there are also verses that condemn men with long hair. I know, I know, the Bible contradicts itself. Who knew?!)
It’s true, though, that the rule is in the student handbook.
The school’s administrator, Sue Book, fell back on the “traditional” aspect of the strange rule, saying it has been place since the school was founded in 1971. She also said she’s received “obscene, ugly calls” as a result of Stanley’s Facebook video.
The school’s message is “all kids are created in the image of God,” [Stanley] added, yet all are not welcome.
Stanley said his son’s hairstyle isn’t what he would choose, but the boy asked for the longer hair because that is the way his godfather wears his hair. The school, he added, seemed to view the style as something worn by “hoodlums” and, because it is mostly worn by black people, “You’re disassociating yourself of people of color.”
We don’t know why the 1971 rule was put in place, or whether it specifically targeted African Americans, but that’s certainly the effect it’s having now. The school has a choice between adhering to a rule they made up or focusing on the child’s character and potential. Unfortunately, as is so often the case with religious fundamentalists, a written rule always trumps common sense.
The good news is that the boy is back in school now. A public school. A place where arbitrary rules about hairstyles don’t override the staff’s care and concern for him as a person.
(Thanks to Scott for the link)