On Monday, 12-year-old Vanessa VanDyke, who attends Faith Christian Academy in Central Florida, was faced with quite a dilemma.
School officials allegedly mandated that she restyle her natural hair or be expelled for a week. But, just one day after the bizarre request got national media attention, the edict was suddenly rescinded and Vanessa now gets to remain in school with her crowning glory as is, according to WKMG Local 6.
Vanessa has attended the private school for three years and had never experienced any bullying over her hairstyle until now. When Vanessa’s mom, Sabrina Kent, approached school officials over her daughter being taunted by classmates because her hair was not straight, they thought it would be in her best interest to straighten it.
The tween, who loves the texture of her hair, talked to Local 6 about her choice of hairstyle. “It says that I’m unique,” Vanessa said. “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 fit in.”
Kent told the news outlet that the school’s threat of expulsion over her daughter’s hair was not a solution to her daughter being bullied. “There have been people teasing her about her hair, and it seems to me that they’re blaming her,” Kent laments. According to the miffed mom, school officials allegedly informed her that Vanessa’s hair was a “distraction.”
The academy does have a dress code in place which also loops in how students can wear their hair. “Hair must be a natural color and must not be a distraction,” and the stipulations include, but are not limited to, mohawks, shaved designs and rat tails.
Despite the school’s strict dress codes, Kent is standing firm that her daughter’s hairstyle will not change. “I’m going to fight for my daughter,” Kent said. “If she wants her hair like that, she will keep her hair like that. There are people out there who may think that natural hair is not appropriate. She is beautiful the way she is.”
Faith Christian Academy officials released a statement on Tuesday regarding the hair-raising issue:
“We’re not asking her to put products in her hair or cut her hair. We’re asking her to style her hair within the guidelines according to the school handbook.”
Meanwhile, Vanessa and her mom will be lining up strategies over the Thanksgiving holiday just in case.