'It's a racial issue': Mom slams 'sexist' school policy prohibiting boys from having long hair

·Lifestyle & Features Editor
·4 min read
Bonnie Miller and Farouk James. Images via Getty Images.
Bonnie Miller and Farouk James. Images via Getty Images.

A U.K. mom is speaking out against school policies which she says restrict boys from having long hair.

Bonnie Miller has helped her son Farouk James amass more than 274,000 followers on Instagram by sharing photos of eight-year-old and his long, naturally textured hair.

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According to Miller, the decision to allow Farouk to grow out his hair was “cultural.” He was initially encouraged by his father’s Ghanian family to not cut his hair until he was three. As Farouk’s hair grew, the child model developed an emotional attachment to his “unique and beautiful” hair which Miller affectionately calls his “mane.”

While researching secondary schools for her son, Miller said she was surprised to learn that several maintained strict policies prohibiting boys from having long hair. The family’s top choice, Fulham Boys School in West London, currently has regulations regarding hair length which Miller believes are “out of date” and discriminatory against children of colour.

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"Hairstyles should be tidy and of a conventional nature, no extreme haircuts including sculpting, shaving, dreadlocks or braiding are allowed. The maximum hair length is above the collar and the minimum hair length is a number 2 cut,” the Church of England secondary school’s policy states. “Hair must be one natural colour. Parents are strongly advised to seek advice on the acceptability of hairstyles that may be considered 'different' before allowing their son to adopt such a style. School reserves the right to insist on re-styling if it considers the style inappropriate."

Bonnie Miller and Farouk James (Marcus Hessenberg / Barcroft Media via Getty Images / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
Bonnie Miller and Farouk James (Marcus Hessenberg / Barcroft Media via Getty Images / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

Although Farouk won’t attend secondary school for another two years, Miller said her son has become “terrified” at the thought of cutting his hair in order to be admitted to the school.

“It’s a racial issue,” Miller told Good Morning America (GMA). “We all know what kind of boys would have dreadlocks and braids. Generally, it’s black boys or mixed boys. We’re not talking about Caucasian children here... it’s very unlikely.”

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Miller launched a petition to the Houses of Parliament requesting the British government prohibit schools from enforcing restrictive policies regarding hair.

(Photo by Phil Lewis/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
(Photo by Phil Lewis/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

“I believe it is teaching our children sexism from a very young age. When you teach the young this unequal behaviour is acceptable today, you prevent a more tolerant world for tomorrow,” the petition reads. “Would you agree that your daughters should be made to wear skirts to school if they are not comfortable in doing so?I think It would be unfair and can be compared to woman having to wear heals in the workplace, in addition them being paid less than men?”

In 2017, Fulham Boys School made headlines after 12-year-old Chikayzea Flanders was threatened with suspension unless he cut his dreadlocks. The family took legal action against the school, which ended with both parties reaching an understanding that the school’s uniform policy and ban on dreadlocks resulted in “indirect discrimination.” Flanders was invited to return to the school, but declined the invitation.

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Fulham Boys School headmaster Alun Ebenezer said the school’s uniform policy is in “no way racist.”

In a series of tweets, Ebenezer wrote, “Everyone is welcome but all must buy into our distinctive ethos. No one is forced to come to FBS. It is a matter of choice and there is plenty of choice of good schools in West London. A boy has the right to have long hair. Surely a school has the right to a strict uniform and appearance policy.

“We think firm boundaries and strict discipline is what young men need and what hundreds and hundreds of families want, reflected in FBS being heavily oversubscribed,” he continued. “Not sure why this is a story.”

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