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Tax-Funded Christian School Threatens To Expel Bullied Black Girl Over Her Natural Hair

by David Badash on November 26, 2013

in Discrimination,News,Religion

Post image for Tax-Funded Christian School Threatens To Expel Bullied Black Girl Over Her Natural Hair

Public and private schools often have specific dress and grooming codes, but one private Christian school has crossed a line by threatening a 12-year old African-American girl with expulsion over her natural hair.

The Faith Christian Academy in Orlando, Florida reportedly has labeled Vanessa VanDyke’s hair a “distraction,” and says she must cut and straighten it or she will not be allowed to continue her studies. Their policy states “hair must be a natural color and must not be a distraction.”

Adding insult to injury, the school’s attack on VanDyke comes after she reported to authorities that she was being bullied for her hair. Now, school authorities seemingly are siding with the bullies, giving them support they certainly don’t deserve.

VanDyke says she likes her hair — which is similar to her mother’s.

“It says that I’m unique,” VanDyke says. “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.”

VanDyke has until the end of the week to adhere to the Faith Christian Academy’s demands.

If Faith Christian Academy were a public school, it’s doubtful they would be able to make such demands.

So a problem arises when one considers that the Faith Christian Academy is partially funded by taxpayer dollars.

Faith Christian Academy’s website states it “accepts students who qualify for the Step Up For Students Scholarship…a need based scholarship through the state of Florida.”

And the Step Up For Students program is indeed funded through Florida state taxpayer dollars.

“For the 2013-14 school year, scholarships are valued up to $4,880 for private school tuition or $500 to help cover transportation costs to attend a public school in another district, typically another county,” Step Up For Students states.

While it’s unknown if VanDyke participates in the program, Florida state taxpayers are funding a portion of this school’s discrimination.

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Hat tip: The Raw Story
Video and screenshot via WKMG

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{ 11 comments }

Alex_Parrish November 26, 2013 at 4:47 pm

It doesn't matter is this student participates in the program or not. If the school discriminates it should not be getting federal funding.

SeanLiberty13 November 26, 2013 at 5:21 pm

If someone found her skin-color distracting would they force her to change it or threaten to kick her out of a school her parents are paying? Listen up Faith "Christian" Academy, you anti-freedom fascists, you accepted money from her parents therefore you are their employee. You will do what they want, how they want, when they want as it pertains to their daughter and you will do it with a yes sir and yes ma'am. Additionally; you accept tax payer funding therefore your school is no longer your property, it is public property and you are an employee of the people – ALL of the people and you have no argument. Bow down or give the money back – to her parents and the people.

They protect the bullies and persecute the victim, Yup that is "exactly" what Jesus would do, you know the guy who condemned teasing people and preached living freely, honestly, kindly, and naturally without worldly possessions such as an expensive over paid for private school that doesn't welcome everybody to the table unconditionally.

finus1 November 26, 2013 at 5:32 pm

THANK YOU!!! I approve your comment 100 times!

livinlavidamota November 26, 2013 at 11:58 pm

Even private schools are not allowed to discriminate against students based on race. If they want to keep their tax exempt status, i.e. be a school, they cannot discriminate against students based on race (http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-tege/eotopicn00.pdf). There are also specific cases where private schools receiving no tax dollars have been successfully sued for refusing to admit black students (http://education-law.lawyers.com/school-law/Can-Private-Schools-Discriminate-Against-Students.html)

Apparently they are not going to expel her anymore for growing hair the way God made it on her head. I wrote this letter to the school, anyway though, expressing my disapproval for them even considering expelling her and I would recommend that anyone who feels the way I do write them as well using their website http://www.fcalions.org/contact/

I would like to express my deep disapproval of your organization's decision to expel Vanessa VanDyke for refusing to straighten or cut her natural curly hair. I understand your official position, that her afro hairstyle is "distracting," and I imagine that you feel that her afro is inappropriate or unprofessional and that your decision to force her to remove it is not racist, it is "race neutral." However if you were more aware of the context and history surrounding how and why black women modify their hair you would not be so cocksure. Firstly you need to know that Vanessa's hair's volume is not the result of uncombed, unkempt, or unclean hair; it is the natural phenotype of African hair. Unlike the other hairstyles you forbid (mohawks, rat tails etc.) her afro does not involve any modification other than combing and washing; God grew it that way. You might say that you limit boys' hair length, but does your school limit the length of the hair of white female students? Do you force white female students with curly hair to straighten or cut their hair to what you deem an acceptable length? Has this thought ever crossed your mind even? I doubt that it has, because you consider white cultural habits, body types, speech patterns, religious beliefs, history, art, and music "normal" and racially "neutral." In the mind of a modern PC bigot, minorities are responsible for racial tension by reminding a "colorblind" society of the existence of race – even if they did so merely by allowing their hair to grow on their head without chemically modifying it. You may consider it healthy to modify one's appearance to look more "professional", or "appropriate."

livinlavidamota November 26, 2013 at 11:58 pm

But have you considered what the consequences are of teaching a young black girl that her hair, because it is curly, is INHERENTLY unprofessional. Have you considered that you are teaching her that even though there are white girls with long curly hair their hair is appropriate, whereas her type of curly hair is INHERENTLY inappropriate? How can she draw any conclusion other than that she is being singled out for being black? You could have taken advantage of the opportunity presented by the fact that Vanessa showed the courage to come forward when she was being bullied. You could have taught the class about tolerance; you could have taught them that they don't need to gang up and bully Vanessa to affirm their own bonds. You could have taught both Vanessa and the bullies about what it means to build real friendships. If you had expended one iota of energy using the public library or the internet you could have learned something about African American history or culture and realized the historical and cultural significance of Vanessa's stand against the shaming of African descended bodies, and you could have realized how profoundly you were humiliating Vanessa by forcing her to straighten or cut her hair to hide her natural curls. You could have helped Vanessa help other black girls to be proud of their bodies and hair. I would recommend that you watch the movie "Good Hair" a documentary made by Chris Rock about the lengths black women in America go to, in terms of time, money, even risking their health in order to brutalize their hair into conforming to the so called norm of straight european looking hair. Many methods of straightening black hair involve the use of sodium hydroxide based "relaxers." Sodium hydroxide is the chemical name for caustic lye. If these relaxers are left in too long they burn the scalp, and Chris Rock shows images in his movie of children with their scalps chemically burnt from hair straightening related accidents. You may believe that a flattening iron is sufficient, but you don't appreciate how often it is necessary (daily) to apply this treatment; there is the potential for burns to the skin in accidents that are inevitable when a burning hot metal straightening iron is brought near the scalp ears and neck repeatedly for hours on end. I would also remind you that even though you are a private religious school – if you have tax free status or if you receive federal tax dollars you will lose you status or you will lose your dollars for discriminating against students on the basis of race. I would recommend you watch Chris Rock's movie and investigate the ample literature and scholarship known as critical race theory so that you can come to understand exactly HOW IT IS RACIST when you single out and exclude people based on their physical attributes. I understand you have claimed that you intend to allow her to keep her natural afro, but I do not trust you since you considered expelling her for it in the first place. I hope that the scrutiny your school has come under will chasten school administrators from such wanton and cavalier racial chauvinism in the future. I feel that I needed to speak my mind in response to the anger and indignation your initial threat to expel the girl inspired in me. I also feel that you need to hear what I have to say.

larryg217 November 27, 2013 at 7:53 am

I certainly am not in favor of singling out any person when it comes to rules and I think it's all kind of silly. That being said, if the school had/has a rule about long hair and they want her to shorten it, just as I'm sure they would if there was a male child that had his hair down to his shoulders, then she should shorten it to comply. Now if it's true that they want her to straighten it, that is ridiculous. My children went to a private school for a few years and one of the rules was that girls had to wear dresses. One day my daughter came home upset about that rule and why it was even made a rule. My answer to her was that not wearing a dress was very unimportant, but that following the rules was.

BillDe November 27, 2013 at 11:20 am

I have no problem with Little Miss VanDyke’s do provided she is required to sit in the back of class so as not to block the blackboard view of other students just as a white gal would have to if she had a huge hair-don't. There… problem solved

smjaeger November 27, 2013 at 3:31 pm

Their policy states “hair must be a natural color and must not be a distraction.” Hmmmmm. But they have no concept of natural African type hair? They want her to modify it. Do the white girls have to have head hugging styles? Do they have to straighten their hair? ONLY if they require buns, braids, pinned hair with the white girls can they even consider making her tame her hair. If Lucy Loo comes in in pincurls and obviously lightened hair is that a no-no? If Barbara Jean comes in with an 80's poof and straight mullet back is that a no-no? Or if Dixie Lee comes in with hair to her waist must she cut it? Or it simply because she's African American and this girl must conform to the WHITE JESUS look?

rewinn November 27, 2013 at 4:36 pm

TODAY'S LESSON: kids, it's o.k. to be a bully so long as you are in authority. So study hard and maybe someday you can bully kids too!!!

RRuinsky November 27, 2013 at 8:13 pm

I think the school's racism is distracting.

kimib79 December 2, 2013 at 6:26 pm

I think she could just braid it for school and pick it out for free time. It's the style that seems to be getting the attention since it is "big". The same way a kid who rocks a Mohawk on the weekends may have to comb it down while in school. This is only a race issue if there are white kids with big hair roaming the halls unchecked. Perhaps they recommended straightening as a way to tame its size.

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