The NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF) wants Florida to change its racist and discriminatory hair policies which infringe on the liberties of black students.
In a letter sent to the Florida Department of Education, the LDF demanded six schools in the state dismiss bans on locs and braids.
Citing an investigation from HuffPost, the LDF has seen a pattern of discrimination targeting black students who participate in Florida’s Hope Scholarship Program, which was created to give students who experienced bullying a fresh start at other schools. An estimated 20 percent of the schools involved with scholarship programs ban types of hairstyles only associated with black students.
“The forms of racial discrimination most commonly seen in education have evolved. It is now rare to find a policy that explicitly excludes potential students based on skin color,” the letter read. “However, subtle rules and restrictions based on racial stereotypes and proxies have the same force and effect.”
Florida became the epicenter of the hair policy controversy when 6-year-old Clinton Stanley Jr., a student at A Book’s Christian Academy, was sent home from school on the first day for sporting locs. According to HuffPost, despite its eligibility, the private school does not participate in the scholarship program. However, the school does receive other public funding.
Students across the South have been forced to change their hairstyles or leave schools entirely because of their ‘do. Another Florida student attending Christian Heritage Academy, 8-year-old Garrick Austin from Jacksonville, was forced to get a haircut because of a discriminatory hair policy.
One of the schools cited in the letter even prohibits weaves from being worn. The LDF has encouraged faculty and staff at the schools to receive adequate training “regarding diversity and cultural competence” to prevent such policies from racially discriminating against black students.
“Such training should aim to foster understanding, self-awareness and practice skills that enable teachers and staff to educate students from diverse socioeconomic and racial backgrounds,” the letter read. “Additionally, all faculty and staff should receive training specifically on the enforcement of any new hair policy to ensure that the policy is enforced fairly, equitably and non-discriminatorily.”