Girl says Florida school threatening expulsion over her ‘natural hair’

PUBLISHED: 11:25 EST, 26 November 2013 | UPDATED: 12:29 EST, 26 November 2013
A 12-year-old girl is being threatened with expulsion from school for refusing to cut her natural afro hair.
Vanessa VanDyke, who is a student at Orlando’s Faith Christian Academy in Florida, had been suffering taunts over her hairstyle from fellow students.
But her mother, Sabrina Kent, says that when she complained about the issue, school administrators took similar aim and told Vanessa that her hair violated school dress codes for being a ‘distraction.’

OrlandoHair apparent: Vanessa VanDyck’s natural afro is being called a violation of her school’s dress code by administrators


OrlandoFamily affair: Vanessa’s mother Sabrina Kent (L) says that she will fight for her daughter’s right to choose a hairstyle

Vanessa says that she was given one week to decide if she wanted to cut her hair, and if not, she would have to leave the school.
She feels that her hair is part of her identity and for that reason, does not plan to change it.
‘It says that I’m unique,’ Vanessa told Click Orlando. ‘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 want to fit in,’ she continued.
Ms Kent says that school administrators targeted Vanessa after she approached them about the excessive teasing Vanessa was receiving from fellow students over her hair.
‘There have been bullies in the school,’ she said. ‘There have been people teasing her about her hair, and it seems to be that they’re blaming her.’
School officials now say that Vanessa is violating the institution’s official dress code, which includes clauses about hair care, reports Click Orlando.

OrlandoSelf perception: Vanessa says that she does not want to cut her hair because it is part of her identity

It states that ‘hair must be a natural color and must not be a distraction,’ and cites mohawks, shaved designs, and rat tails as distracting examples.
The school says that Vanessa’s hair qualifies as a distraction, but according to Ms Kent: ‘A distraction to one person is not a distraction to another. You can have a kid come in with pimples on his face. Are you going to call that a distraction?’
Administrators at Faith Christian Academy were not available to respond to MailOnline’s requests for comment.
Vanessa, who has been at the school since the third grade, says that she is ‘depressed about leaving my friends and people I’ve known for a while, but I’d rather have that than the principals and administrators picking on me and saying that I should change my hair.’
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