Stop sexing hair

ULM Hawkeye

This past summer, an ambitious 11-year old named Ashton wanted to break the Guiness World Record for longest hair. Then he wanted to donate the hair to kids with cancer.

Ashton is a boy.

He had been growing his hair out for 2 years before being sent home from his Rapides Parish school when it reached shoulder length.

Ashton was told that he couldn’t come back until he cut his hair to policy length.

But his parents didn’t easily relent. His mom fought what she called the “outdated” dress policy, but the Rapides Parish School Board kept postponing meetings to discuss it.

Obviously, the school board was viewing hair in the traditionally gendered way: short hair on boys, long hair on girls.

As Ashton’s mother stated, Ashton’s hair length wouldn’t be a problem if he were a girl.

The fact that certain hair lengths are still assigned to certain genders is a sign of nothing new: our society sexes everything. And in the process they desexualize those that stray from the path.

Consider Ashton, a kid with good intentions and without the blur of societal expectations in his young eyes.

What does he want to do? Make the world a better place (and break a record because that’s awesome).

What does his school board do? Tell him, not subtly, that despite his good-hearted plan he is doing something wrong because his hair falls beyond his chin.

Are they concerned that the teacher that has taught him all year suddenly won’t be able to differentiate him from the females in class if his hair remains long?.

When we teach children to adhere to such close-minded standards from such a young age, we allude to something being wrong with what is written-off by the rules.

Young boys may feel inclined to call other males feminine because of their long hair, when this is often not the case.

It happens to females, too. I’ve been told, in rather degrading ways, that I resemble a boy because of my pixie cut and stick figure. Most of the time people are just teasing, but the same theory holds.

My gender is determined by things far more important than my hair length.

I feel best when my hair is short, and Ashton is working towards good with his hair long.

No one should get to take away our feminity or masculinity because of the length of hair we choose.

After months of persistence, the Rapides Parish School Board rewrote school policy to allow for both boys and girls to keep long hair.

It’s a step in the right direction for freedom of expression in Louisiana’s public school system, and it fairly proves the point that hair length does not equal gender.