East Texas school district tells boy to cut his hair or wear a dress

(Photo: Randi Woodley)

TATUM, Texas (WTHR/KYTX) — Many parents at an East Texas school district want board members know they believe the district’s dress code policy is gender bias and racially discriminatory.

During a meet-the-teacher event at school, Randi Woodley says she was called into the principal's office to talk about her grandson's hair.

"And the superintendent then gave my three options, he told me that I could either cut it, braid it and pin it up, or put my grandson in a dress and send him to school and when prompted my grandson must say he's a girl," said boy's grandmother Randi Woodley.

Woodley says she was told her grandson's hair was distracting. In order to comply with the guidelines of the district's dress code policy, Woodley says she was told by staff to change the child's hair.

"I was just always taught to embrace. Embrace my identity, embrace who we are," Woodley said.

She says the message she wanted to get across to the school board was beyond the issue of hair.

“I'm trying to teach him that who you are. God created you and you can feel good about it," Woodley said. "You're loved, you're beautifully made.”

In regards to school dress code policy, the district states:

"Student’s hair shall be clean and well-groomed at all times and shall not obstruct vision. No ponytails, ducktails, rat-tails, male bun or puffballs shall be allowed on male students. ALL male hair of any type SHALL NOT extend below the top of a t-shirt collar, as it lays naturally."

Woodley says naturally when her grandson's hair is down, it hangs below his t-shirt collar line. From time to time she says she will put ponytails in his hair. The district says those hairstyles do not comply with their guidelines.

Along with Woodley, two other people spoke during the district's open board meeting.

"On the dress code, on the hair code, I would just ask that you would consider updating it perhaps,” a teacher said at the meeting.

“To tell an African-American how to wear their hair is wrong,” a family member of a student said.

The school district did not respond to KYTX's request for comment.