ORLANDO (WRIC)—A 12-year-old African-American girl may be expelled from her private school if she doesn't change her natural afro hairstyle.
Vanessa VanDyke, a student at Faith Christian Academy in Orlando, says she was given a week to decide whether to cut or tone down her hairstyle. The ultimatum came only after her family approached school administrators because she was being teased about her hair.
“It says that I'm unique,” VanDyke said. “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.”
Faith Christian Academy's student handbook insists that “Hair must be a natural color and must not be a distraction.” VanDyke's mother, Sabrina Kent, is taking a stand against the dress code.
“I'm going to fight for my daughter,” Kent said. “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.”
Kent noted that Vanessa has worn her hair the same way since the beginning of the school year, and that the school only became concerned after she complained that her daughter was being bullied.
“There have been people teasing her about her hair, and it seems to me that they're blaming her,” Kent said.
Despite having been given an ultimatum, VanDyke will likely stick with her hairstyle.
“I'm depressed about leaving my friends and people that I've known for a while,” she said. “But I'd rather have that than the principals and administrators picking on me and saying that I should change my hair.”
Copyright 2013 by Young Broadcasting of Richmond