I’m sure most of you have seen the article about the nine-year-old, Kamryn Renfro, who shaved her head in support of her friend, Delaney Clements, and how her school barred her from attending for a day. If you haven’t, take a few moments to catch up. I think it an amazing gesture on Kamryn’s part, especially for a nine-year-old. I’m so glad her mother is standing behind her decision. And the school administrators need to rethink how they handle policy breaches. Would it have hurt anything to allow Kamryn to go to class while they contacted her parents and brought them in for a discussion? No nine-year-old shaves their head on their own… not completely anyway.
As ridiculous as I think it is to keep a child from attending school because of a shaved head, the statement by the school incensed me in another way. The statement was this (bolding mine):
“Caprock Academy does have a detailed dress code policy, which was created to promote safety, uniformity, and a non-distracting environment for the school’s students. Under this policy, shaved heads are not permitted,” said Catherine Norton Breman, President and Chair of Caprock Academy Board of Directors.
Why did that set me off? Maybe if we weren’t promoting uniformity, it wouldn’t be so distracting to have something or someone different around. If everything is uniform, then we are missing the opportunity to teach about diversity. We are missing the opportunity to allow our children to learn in a safe environment about the differences between people. We are missing the opportunity to allow our children to embrace those differences.
Let’s look at the next steps… the board is now trying to decide whether to allow Kamryn to attend school as an exception to the policy or whether they will insist she wear a wig to school until her natural hair grows back. So they want to teach a nine-year-old that she’s not acceptable with a bald head, but putting on fake hair makes everything right again?? This school is teaching the children that appearance in more important than supporting a friend. What a lousy lesson.
A part of me almost wishes they’d rule in favor of the wig, so Kamryn’s mom can go out and buy the brightest shocking pink or neon orange wig she can find. Kamryn wouldn’t be different then, would she? Does the school believe that if all of the children are dressed the same, fit in the same little box, conform to the mold, they are actually the same? They’re not. Each family has its own family culture and instead of sharing these differences in a safe environment, they are suppressed. Fear breeds in ignorance and suppression—fear lashes out when confronted with something different, when we’ve been taught that different is bad. An opportunity to allow different to be simply different, and accepted has been missed.
My heart goes out to both girls. I can imagine how upset Kamryn was to be in trouble for something done out of the goodness of her heart. I also imagine how Delaney feels… she was feeling like an outsider, and self-conscious because of the hair loss … something beyond her control. Now she hears, “it’s okay for you to be bald, you’re sick. But not anyone else.” She’s even further isolated by the rash act of the school.
No matter the decision of the school board as to whether Kamryn can return to school bald or not, the damage has already been done. The children have been taught the lesson. Let’s save uniformity for a totalitarian society and allow girl’s to shave their heads if they want. The distraction caused by keeping a student from attending school was far greater than allowing her to attend bald-headed.