Commentary: Native boy fights to keep hair long
"A Native American boy is fighting a Texas school district for the right to keep his long hair. A small rural school district in Fort Bend County Texas wants to force Adriel Arocha to cut his hair in compliance with the terms of the school district's dress code.

Hence, the Needville school district and a determined mother are tangled in a dispute over hair. Michelle Betenbaugh says her son, Adriel Arocha, wears his hair long because of religious beliefs tied to his Native American heritage. The dispute began last summer, when Kenney Arocha and Michelle Betenbaugh informed Needville ISD officials of their plans to move from Stafford and have their son, Adriel Arocha, attend kindergarten in the district.

Made aware of the couple’s and the boy’s views on the practice by some Native American men of wearing their hair long, school officials told Adriel’s parents he would have to cut his hair according to terms in Needville ISD’s dress code. The parents refused, and a drawn out court battle followed.

The leaders of the Needville school district have strict rules about long hair on boys and don't see any reason to make an exception in this case. Needville's dress and grooming code, which does not allow hair past the collar or eyes for boys, is similar to other rural districts' in the Houston region.

The case illustrates that some rural Texas school districts have strict grooming codes that reflect the traditional or old-fashioned values of small-town America. Yet the Texas school district has no right to force Adriel to cut his hair. The supposed old fashioned values are simply tools of oppression and conformity. Indeed, the whole thing is a throwback to 1970. It is amazing that there are still such ugly and intolerant backwaters of American society."

Get the Story:
Micha J. Stone: Native American boy fights Texas school over hair cut (The Seattle Examiner 6/29)

Related Stories:
Boy's hair length at issue for school in Texas (7/15)