Girl, 8, banned from school photos for 'unnatural' African hairstyle

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An 8-year-old girl in Michigan was barred from taking a photo on school picture day because her hairstyle was deemed “extreme.”

Her furious mother is speaking out about the incident, saying “race has everything to do with this.”

The third-grader at Paragon Charter Academy in Michigan had her hair styled in braids wrapped into a bun by her mum LaToya Howard for photo day. But after leaving the house feeling camera-ready with her black and red extensions, Marian Scott came home feeling defeated and upset.

“Marian had called from a friend of mine’s phone who saw Marian walking down the hallway going to the office,” Ms Howard told Yahoo Lifestyle.

Third grader Marian Scott with her 'extreme hairstyle'.
Third grader Marian Scott (pictured) was told she wasn't allowed to have her school photos taken because her hairstyle was 'extreme'. Source: Facebook/LaToya Scott

According to Ms Howard, Marian was told by her principal that she wasn’t allowed to get her photo taken.

Ms Howard said that the school should have communicated that to her first. Instead, Marian was sent back to her classroom and told that she could get her pictures done later in the year.

Ms Howard shared her frustration on Facebook and wrote that she’d be taking her money to purchase photos elsewhere.

“I see other kids with coloured hair but since she’s BLACK it’s a problem,” Ms Howard wrote in a Facebook post. “Race has everything to do with this. This is one of there [sic] rules and it should of said for blacks only,” she continued.

A spokesperson from National Heritage Academies, which operates Marian’s school, sent the following statement to Yahoo Lifestyle from the parent and student handbook.

“Hair colour must be of natural tones. Headbands must be solid white, navy, hunter green, or black. Students must be in school uniform for fall pictures and any re-takes. Students not in school uniform will not be allowed to have their pictures taken,” the handbook read.

The school told Yahoo that they felt they had communicated the policy to all parents and handled the situation well.

“We take great care to ensure our families are well-informed about this policy, and also work closely with students and their parents if there’s a concern,” the school wrote.

Schoolgirl barred from school photos for 'extreme hairstyle'.
Marian Howrad (left) was barred from having her school photos taken because it wasn't 'natural', her mother LaToya Howard (right) said the school was being racist. Source: Facebook/LaToya Scott

Doris Greene, a law professor at Drexel University and expert on grooming codes discrimination maintains that, based on Ms Howard’s observations, Marian may have been treated unfavourably because of her race.

“This incident highlights the heightened level of scrutiny, regulation, and stigmatisation that black children — and black girls in particular — endure at school,” Greene wrote to Yahoo Lifestyle.

“Whether a black child is barred from wearing a natural hairstyle or hair colour, it is often a reflection of racial as well as colour-based stereotypes and biases the decision-makers implicitly or explicitly hold concerning what is ‘natural,’ or ‘normal,’ and therefore ‘acceptable’ for black children.”

Ms Howard tells Yahoo Lifestyle that she and Scott’s next plan of action is to sit down with the school to address the issues that they have with the rule and the way in which it was enforced in this particular case.

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