Bullying based on hairstyles banned at CMS for the coming year
Updates to the Student Code of Conduct include anti-bullying rules based on hair styles.
CHARLOTTE, North Carolina – With the addition of three simple words, schools in Charlotte-Mecklenburg have paved the way for students, especially black and brown children, to style their hair the way they want without fear of harassment or discriminated against by their peers.
The 2021-2022 Student Code of Conduct was updated this year to include protections for student hairstyles, a CMS spokesperson confirmed to WCNC Charlotte. The current textbook prevented students from discriminating on the basis of appearance, but a recent high school graduate spent her senior year pushing for politics not to go far enough.
“It’s an issue that simply transcends appearance playing against a larger context of marginalization that black and brown students face,” said former student Kiersten Hash.
Hash has reported cases across the country where students have been punished or ordered to change their hair or protective hairstyles to conform to standards that may not be inherent in the way their hair grows naturally.
PREVIOUSLY: Students advocate for CROWN Act to end racial discrimination in hair
Locs, braids, twists, knots and other styles are often viewed in the workplace and school as less professional, numerous studies have shown. Hash argued before the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School Board earlier this year that the school district should implement a version of the CROWN Act to allow students to feel free to wear their hair in its natural, authentic state.
The act, whose acronym stands for “Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair,” is gaining momentum across the country. It prevents the natural discrimination of the hair. In the past two years, 13 states have passed versions of the CROWN Act; dozens of municipalities have also implemented local versions.
North Carolina lawmakers introduced statewide legislation in the last session, but the bill didn’t catch on. At the local level, the protections are more successful. The cities of Raleigh and Durham saw ordinances come into effect this month banning hair discrimination in schools and workplaces.
RELATED: CROWN Day Celebrates Hair Independence | Activist pushes CROWN Act to gain traction in North Carolina
Hash, who still has siblings in CMS and a parent who runs the school, said she wanted to see the changes not only for themselves but also for the thousands of black and brown students who fear retaliation or harm. punishments for wearing their hair in a certain way. .
“It’s so important that the kids can be themselves,” Hash said. “You want to foster the most effective learning environment for a student and when you target certain aspects of their identity it is always going to leave negative ramifications. “
Hash’s work has caught the attention of school district leaders, including Superintendent Earnest Winston, who invited the teenager to sit on the committee reviewing the code of conduct this year.
In addition to protections against bullying, Hash said she also wanted CMS to adopt a policy that prevents a student from being sanctioned for wearing certain hairstyles.
The update takes effect at the start of the school year.
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