Several schools have refused to admit an 8-year-old boy because of his hair in the UK, and his mother is on a cause to change those policies inhibiting her son’s education.
Bonnie Miller has been in search of schools her son Farouk James could attend for his secondary education, but two won’t allow him because of his long, thick natural hair.
Her older son, who is now 23, attended The London Oratory School although, she knew about their bad hair policies, Miller thought after 10 years they would have readjusted their policy. The more reason she tried to get Farouk enrolled, but was refused admission.
Unfortunately, time and space didn’t stop the school from sticking to their policies because the last time Miller had a brawl with them it was about her older son’s s hair is too short for the school.
“His hair was cut too short and he got in trouble three times and nearly excluded from school for having it too short, to the point where I actually went to the shoe shop and bought some boot polish,” she told CBS News.
This time around, The London Oratory School said Farouk’s long hair violates the school’s policy as well.
Both of Miller’s sons are mixed race. Their father is Ghanaian and for cultural reasons, James’ hair wasn’t cut until he was three years old.
“At that point, he was attached — and so was I, to be honest — with his beautiful hair,” Miller said. “We just kept the hair.”
Their decision to keep his hair did not seem like it might cause a fuss in the future until it was time to apply for secondary schools.
There was a similar incidence at Fulham Boys School where a boy with dreadlocks was banned from the school because of his hair.
The boy’s mum took the case to court over the hair rule. They reached an agreement and settled out of court. “They said in light of what’s happened, they’re now going to change their policies.”
Miller then thought Fulham Boys School would be more accepting of her son now, but little did she know the rules had changed for the worst in her opinion.
“It had been changed, but what they’ve done is added two racist policies: one, no dreadlocks and two, no braids,” Miller said.
With regards to the Fulham Boys School uniform and appearance policy, “the maximum hair length is above the collar and the minimum hair length is a number 2 cut.”
Seemingly, both school choices would not accept her son because of his hair. “Most of the schools that have these hair policies are Christian schools — which is ironic because Jesus had long hair,” she said. “So that means Jesus wouldn’t get into those schools if he were around today.” Coed schools were Miller’s next options but their hair policies are strict as well. Thinking outside the box Miller said, “I was thinking about children that are non-gender and gender-neutral and trans and thinking, ‘How will they fit into this?’”
To her these are growing concerns that need to be addressed. “Who decides what’s feminine and what’s masculine? I’ll register him as nonbinary, and see what the school has to say then,” she said.
Miller is yet to find a private school that will enroll James in spite of his long hair and now Miller wants to raise the awareness and help others in the process, hence she set up a Change.org petition to ban discrimination of hair in the UK.
She’s also lobbying Houses of Parliament and the educational secretary to petition schools on her behalf.
“We’re getting a real team together and calling it the Mane Generation,” Miller said. “We’re going to fight this until these rules get changed. And it’s globally, not just domestically in the U.K.”
“I saw a boy in America with dreadlocks who is not allowed to graduate,” Miller said, referring to Texas high school student Deandre Arnold. “There’s just so many kids [in America] coming forward and sharing their experiences.”
California became the first state to ban discrimination against natural hair in 2019 when the CROWN act was passed.
“It’s against human rights to ask someone to take part of their natural body away to appease society’s expectations of what you should be,” Miller said.
James is a strong, confident kid, according to his mum. Although many have made fun of his hair, he is obstinate about cutting it.
There are others who also love his hair and that reflects in his large followers on Instagram which Miller seeks to leverage to support her cause.