A Florida dad is suing the private school that denied his son entry because of his hair. In the lawsuit, which was filed by the ACLU and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund on behalf of Clinton Stanley, Sr. on Thursday, the angry father says that 6-year-old CJ wasn’t allowed inside on his first day at A Book’s Christian Academy back in August due to the fact that he had dreadlocks.
“It’s not right for a school to take taxpayer dollars while singling out and shaming black natural hair,” Stanley wrote in an ACLU blog post, describing CJ’s experience at the west Orange County school, where the boy was to attend on a state scholarship. “They treated him like a leper, and then they gave me an ultimatum: my son’s hairstyle or his schooling.”
Stanley previously spoke out about the incident when it first happened a few months ago, accusing the academy of racial discrimination and “showing a disdain for black students who bring their whole selves to class.” According to the school’s policy, which has been in place since 1971, boys cannot have hair that’s styled in “dreads, Mohawks, designs, unnatural color, or unnatural designs.”
It’s the latest in a long list of dress code battles between parents and school administrators across the country (like the school in North Carolina where girls aren’t allowed to wear pants). And in this case, Stanley believes the private school is violating the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which enforces anti-discrimination.
“The problem is not my son’s hair. The problem is a school policy that doesn’t accept my son, and others like him, for who they are,” says Stanley. “On behalf of my son and other black children in my community, I’m urging the Florida Department of Education to hold A Book’s Christian Academy accountable.”