Like most schools, Faith Christian Academy in Orlando, Florida has a student dress code. Regarding hair styles, the school aims to keep distractions at a minimum by requiring students to have natural hair color styled in a non-distracting manner. The student handbook’s examples of distracting hairstyles include Mohawks, shaved designs, and rat tails.
But in the case of African-American student Vanessa VanDyke, the school has made clear that their desire for students to wear natural looking hair only applies to certain ethnicities. VanDyke is facing expulsion from the school for refusing to restyle her natural, puffy hair.
"It says that I'm unique," VanDyke 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."
VanDyke’s mother, Sabrina Kent, says her daughter has worn the same hairstyle since the beginning of the school year. Administrators only asked her to change it after Kent complained that children at the school were teasing her daughter about her hair.
"There have been people teasing her about her hair, and it seems to me that they're blaming her," Kent said. "I'm going to fight for my daughter. 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."
VanDyke told Click Orlando that if Faith Christian Academy officials do not retract their order for her to change her natural hair style, she will transfer to a more tolerant school.
"I'm depressed about leaving my friends and people that 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," she said.