ORLANDO, Fla. (CBS Tampa) – An African-American teenager is facing expulsion from her private school because of her natural hair.
Since the third grade Vanessa VanDyke has been attending Faith Christian Academy. But now school administrators see her hair as a distraction and want her to change her hair or leave the school.
“It says that I’m unique,” VanDyke told WKMG. “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.”
The 12-year-old explained to the tv-station that she has worn her natural hair all year long but other students began teasing her so she complained to school staff. Now administrators from the school are singling her out because it violates the school dress code outlined in the student handbook.
“Hair must be a natural color and must not be a distraction,” the student handbook reads.
“A distraction to one person is not a distraction to another,” VanDyke’s mother, Sabrina Kent explained to WKMG. “You can have a kid come in with pimples on his face. Are you going to call that a distraction?”
VanDyke says she’s not going to change her hair because it is apart of her identity.
“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,” VanDyke told WKMG.
Her mother feels that school administrators are blaming her for for being bullied.
“I’m going to fight for my daughter,” Kent said to WKMG. “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.”
WKMG reported that school administrators responded to an email asking about the issue, but did not provide any answers to questions.