A Black child was forced out of his private school because of his dreadlocks, his parents told Cincinnati Enquirer. Zion Temple Christian Academy told the Johnsons that their 6-year-old son Asten would not be allowed to wear his hair in the natural style, even though he was already enrolled and wore locs last year.
“What’s disheartening about Zion Temple is it’s in the middle of a Black community and it’s a predominantly Black school,” his mother Christina told the outlet. “How can you not accept your own people?”
The Johnsons were planning to enroll their 3-year-old, named Arrison, at the private Cincinnati school as well, though he also has dreadlocks.
“I just don’t understand how you can be an African American facility that promotes kings and queens in the heart of a Black community and then you discriminate against people who look like the community,” Christina added.
The Cincinnati City Council passed an amendment to their anti-bias law last year that prohibits discrimination based on natural hair styles. However, the amendment exempts religious institutions.
A school secretary emailed Christina earlier this month with the school’s dress code, which banned boys from wearing “braids, design cuts or Mohawk hairstyles” and mandated that “hair must be cut one inch short.”
According to the Enquirer, the family has made new education arrangements for their kids rather than cut their dreadlocks, but are disappointed with the school’s policy.
“I’m going do whatever I need to do for my kids,” father Nate Johnson told the outlet. “It’s just unfortunate because of a hairstyle.”
The news arrives a day after a Black Texas teenager won a court ruling against his own school district, which had required him to cut his dreadlocks. Kaden Bradford will now be able to begin his school year without “[enduring] an unjust and educationally-damaging in-school suspension simply for having uncut locs,” NAACP Legal Defense Fund associate director-counsel Janai Nelson said in a statement.
Last year, Bradford’s cousin DeAndre Arnold also made headlines when the same school district banned him from walking for his graduation because of his hair.