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High School Principal Creates New Dress Code Regulations For Both Students And 'Lazy' Parents That Ban Bonnets & Hair Rollers

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high school student raising hand in class

A high school principal is under fire after sending home a new dress code policy that applies to both parents and students.

Carlotta Outley Brown, a principal at James Madison High School in Houston, Texas, sent home a letter to all parents of students at the school in April 2019. The new dress code policy was not only for students to follow, but also applied to any parents or guardians who would be stepping on school grounds.

Brown claimed that the new dress code policy would effectively ban bonnets, hair rollers, and other specific items.

Brown first sent the letter home to parents after a mother of a student had shown up to the school wearing a headwrap and T-shirt dress and was unable to register her daughter for classes because of it.

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Brown insisted that from now on, both students and parents alike were banned from wearing certain items of clothing. Some of those items included satin caps, shower caps, bonnets, hair rollers, and revealing jeans and shirts.

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"To prepare our children and let them know daily, the appropriate attire they are supposed to wear when entering a building, going somewhere, applying for a job, or visiting someone outside of the home setting, I am going to enforce these guidelines on a daily basis at Madison High School,” Brown wrote in the letter. “We are preparing our children for the future and it begins here.”

In the letter, Brown shared the long list of clothes that weren't going to be acceptable for both students and parents, which included "jeans that are torn from your buttocks," "pajamas of any kind," "sagging pants, shorts [and] jeans," and "very low-cut tops or revealing tops that [show] your busts."

Along with that, Brown also banned boys and men from wearing any type of undershirt, and if they did show up in one, they would be banned from entering the campus until they changed.

"Parents, we do value you as a partner in your child’s education. You are your child’s first teacher. However, please know we have to have standards, most of all we must have high standards.”

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Many parents and students were outraged by Brown's new dress code policy.

In an interview with KPRC-TV, Joselyn Lewis, the mother who was turned away from registering her daughter for classes because she showed up in a headwrap and T-shirt dress, voiced her discontent with the new dress code policy.

“[The administrator] said that my headscarf was out of dress code and my dress was too short,” she told the outlet. “I can wear what I want to wear. I don’t have to get all dolled up to enroll her [in] school."

"My child’s education, anyone’s child’s education should be more important than what someone has on. That shouldn’t matter.”

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In a similar vein, Zeph Capo, the president of the Houston Federation of Teachers, told the Houston Chronicle he found dress codes regarding women’s hair “classist.”

“I’m sorry — this principal may have plenty of money and time to go to the hairdresser weekly and have her stuff done,” Capo pointed out. “Who are you to judge others who may not have the same opportunities that you do? Having a wrap on your head is not offensive. It should not be controversial.”

Dress codes are predominantly forced upon schools with a heavy population of Black and Brown students.

Other parents pointed out the discriminatory undertones of the dress code policy, and how much of the language used seemed to be aimed at Black women specifically.

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Time and time again, we see Black women's hair being targeted as somehow falling under the "standard" and labeled as "inappropriate." By enacting dress codes that single out Black students unfairly, this type of selective enforcement reinforces harmful stereotypes and implies that black students' appearances are inherently problematic or inappropriate.

According to data acquired by the Government Accountability Office, more than 80% of predominantly Black schools and almost two-thirds of predominantly Hispanic schools enforce strict dress codes, compared with just over one-third of White schools.

“I really think it was discriminatory, the language that was used. It was demeaning,” another mother of a student, Tomiko Miller, told the Chronicle. “And I’m African American — and if it’s misty outside and I have a hair bonnet on, I don’t see how that’s anyone’s business.”

Efforts should always be made to create inclusive dress code policies that respect and celebrate diversity, rather than enforcing rules that discriminate against specific racial or ethnic groups.

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Nia Tipton is a Chicago-based entertainment, news, and lifestyle writer whose work delves into modern-day issues and experiences.