July 09, 2010

Court rules for long-haired boy

Here's the latest on the Texas school district vs. the long-haired Native boy:

Federal Court Upholds Young Boy's Religious RightsA federal appeals court ruled Friday that a Texas school district cannot punish an American Indian kindergartner for wearing his hair in traditional braids to express his family's religious beliefs.

The ruling from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans upholds a Houston lower court ruling.
The key arguments:The 5-year-old boy's parents, Kenney Arocha and Michelle Betenbaugh, argued their son, identified in court papers as A.A., has a constitutional right to wear a hairstyle that conforms to his Native American religious beliefs. Arocha hasn't cut his hair in 11 years, believing the long braids have religious meaning. His son's hair has never been cut.

The Needville Independent School District argued its grooming policy requires a boy's hair to not cover his ears or touch the top of his shirt collar. The policy is designed to teach proper hygiene, promote discipline and avoid disruptions in school, according to Roger Hepworth, a lawyer for the district.
Comment:  The district's so-called arguments are obvious shams:

  • Teach proper hygiene? Girls with long hair routinely wash their hair.

  • Promote discipline? Girls with long hair are as disciplined as anyone else.

  • Avoid disruptions? Girls with long hair don't cause disruptions.

    The district's arguments amount to, "Only wild 'n' crazy people--girls, hippies, Indians--have long hair. We're not savages like them. We're civilized white men."

    In other words, it's pure cultural prejudice.

    And talk about your frivolous lawsuits. Even the judge noted how much money the district was wasting to thwart one boy with long hair:During arguments before the appeals court, Judge E. Grady Jolly pressed Hepworth to explain why the district had prolonged the court challenge rather than allow the boy to wear his hairstyle of choice.

    "It's not the (lower) court's job to decide how the policy should be," Hepworth had said. "It's the school district's, within constitutional limits."
    I'm glad Hepworth added that "within constitutional limits" clause. The district is clearly violating the boy's freedom of religion and probably his freedom of speech (expression) too.

    For more on the subject, see School Needs to Regulate Hair? and Long-Haired Boy Goes to School. For a similar story, see Teacher's Aide Chopped Native Boy's Hair.
  • 1 comment:

    RavenScholar said...

    Their arguments remind me of those schools where the government took children off the reservations and tried to "assimilate them into American society". Burning their clothes, cutting their hair, forbidding them to speak their native languages, etc.