A Texas woman is outraged after school officials allegedly said her 4-year-old grandson couldn’t wear his long hair to school — an incident the doting grandmother calls discrimination and a racial injustice.
Randi Woodley said she was at a Tatum Independent School District meet-the-teacher event recently when staff members told her there was an issue with her grandson Michael Trimble’s hair, she told KETK. She then spoke with the superintendent, Dr. J.P. Richardson, whom she said gave her three options regarding the boy’s shoulder-length hair.
“He told me that I could either cut it, braid it and pin it up, or put my grandson in a dress and send him to school, and when prompted my grandson must say he’s a girl,” Woodley told the outlet.
Woodley wrote about the incident in an Aug. 13 Facebook post, recalling that the school’s principal said Trimble’s hair could be a “distraction.”
Tatum ISD officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment from PEOPLE.
“I was totally confused by the word distraction … considering it’s his natural hair; no coloring, no extensions. His natural hair,” she continued in the post.
The district’s dress code policy, the link to which KYTX shared, is as follows: “Student’s hair shall be clean and well groomed at all times and shall not obstruct vision. No extreme style or color (neon, etc…) Only natural hair color shall be allowed. No symbols, letters, or extreme designs cut in the hair shall be permitted. No ponytails, ducktails, rat-tails, male bun or puffballs shall be allowed on male students. ALL male hair of any type SHALL NOT extend below the top of a t-shirt collar, as it lays naturally.”
However, Woodley has said the dress code discriminates against Black boys.
Woodley and other outraged residents attended Monday’s school board meeting with signs that read “My hair is my crown” and “No one is free when others are oppressed,” according to KYTX. She and other speakers urged the board members to reconsider the policy.
“I will be here at every board meeting. I will fight to get all of the rules changed,” she said during the meeting.
Woodley added to KETK: “We shouldn’t even be talking about this at any age, because hair has nothing to do with learning.”
A family friend, Rachel Raye, has started a petition on Change.org, writing that Woodley would not be “bullied” into cutting Trimble’s hair.
“When will the racial discrimination and injustice towards our sons, brothers, uncles, husbands, and friends stop?” Raye wrote. “Really? A four year old boy. We need to be his voice.”