Many parents opt to let their children’s hair grow as long as possible, regardless of the child’s gender expression. Personally, I love when my son’s hair is long because his curls stand out. Sure, sometimes people mistake him for a girl, but that doesn’t bother us. Why should it? Being a girl isn’t insulting. Regardless, it does surprise me that folks still have these antiquated notions of what a boy or girl are “supposed” to look like. What does surprise me is when I hear that a 4-year-old boy with long hair is being barred from attending his preschool.

Like many kids, little Jabez Oates was excited to start attending preschool at Barbers Hill School in Mont Belvieu, Texas this week. But while all the other kids are sitting in class, learning to read and making new friends, Jabez is home. That’s because a completely discriminatory practice is taking place in the school district: not allowing boys to have hair that grows past their eyes, ears, or neck.

According to Jabez’s mother, Jessica Oates, the school informed her that her son would only be allowed to attend and keep his hair if she could provide documentation that it was long due to religious or cultural reasons. Already, I have a problem with the fact that a Texas school district is policing young children’s bodies. It shouldn’t matter if my child’s hair is long because of our faith or because he simply happens to enjoy long hair. There should be no discussion about this boy with long hair.

“I was told my son would be allowed to keep his hair. I was getting him all geared up for school. I took him to school and it was no big deal,” the mother said.

4-year-old boy with long hair should be allowed to attend school

Jabez’s family is part Cocopah Indian, a culture that views hair as strength, and his mother was surprisingly OK with providing the documentation necessary to prove this (this woman clearly has some patience). But the Friday before classes began, the school called her up to let her know the boy’s hair would not be allowed at the school, citing a school board policy.

According to the statement released by the school, the policy is ,“based on community expectations, and Barber Hills administration will continue to implement the said policy.”

This is completely ridiculous, especially since there is no hair length standard for the girls. Even when Oates tried to bring her son to school with his hair tied up, they were turned away. Completely backwards and clearly sexist. Feel free to let the Barber Hills school district know how you feel about the situation on their Twitter page. I know I will.

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(Image: Twitter / @ABC7Chicago)