published: Friday, October 12, 2012
Decision about pink hair not black and white
At first glance the issue seems black and white -- why should a middle school student be penalized for dying his hair pink during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month? After all, he did it for a good cause and we all take our right to freedom of speech seriously. Don't we want our children to pay attention to the events happening around us, take stands and become involved? And, after all, the dye will wear off in a few weeks, so what is the problem?
If the News-Sun thought the school was stifling freedom of speech and community involvement, we would be asking these questions too.
The situation, however, is not so simple.
In the first place we don't believe the issue is actually about freedom of speech.
The school did not ban pink hair completely, for example. The principal told the students "to not go crazy," but did say they could make an individual statement by wearing pink strand extensions or pink highlights in their real hair.
Nor do we take exception to the rule itself.
A school is a place of work and concentration as much as a place of experiment and social interaction.
Yes, students need to be encouraged to learn about the world and connect with it, but the real task at hand is mastering the skills and processes that make connecting with the world possible.
It takes an orderly routine, supportive atmosphere, discipline, time and effort to allow that learning to happen. Students have to be able to focus. Which is why the school has the policy restricting distractions, including hair dyed an unusual color.
Beyond the one rule itself, are the issues of following rules in general, and following through on violations.
It is just as important for a school to enforce its entire dress code, as it is for parents to ensure their children obey it. It does no good, for example, to punish a student for dying his hair if he sits among classmates breaking the rules in other ways, like wearing low slung trousers or transparent blouses.
Granted, not all rules are good -- rules can be oppressive and harmful. Those should be challenged. In this case, however, we believe the ban on unnatural hair color was made for a valid reason parents should honor, which is where parents enter the equation.
In Highlands County parents must know the school rules. They have to sign a form stating they have read the school's handbook -- which explains what is expected from students, parents and teachers, and lists all the do's and don'ts.
While the school, of course, bears responsibility for enforcing those rules, so does the parent, who sets the most important example. Who else should nurture social responsibility?
Children need to learn there is a time and place for everything. We don't dress or behave in church the same way we do at a basketball game, for example.
In the end we believe the school is correct in this instance, but have to admit we wish there was an alternative to the argument, conflict and lost learning time. We hope the school and the family can work together to find appropriate ways for the young man to express his support for a good cause.
Tinker vs. Des Moines (by: Concerned Parent - 10/14/2012)
There are not very many good choices for parents to choose from when it comes to sending their child to public school in Highlands County. A code of conduct established by a public school is not a law. It is a desired code established by the folks who wrote its contents to achieve a desired result. If the guidelines do not represent the parents views, religious beliefs, or are not recognized as a future problem prior to signing agreement with the publication, does it mean that they are not permitted access to the best public school option for education in Highlands County? The topic of hair color, dress code, and public display of protest or support of a cause has many times before been addressed before in public schools. Please refer to the case of Tinker vs. Des Moines for direction from our past regarding freedom of expression/speech in this historic case representing student rights: http://www.bc.edu/bc_org/avp/cas/comm/free_speech/tinker.html
Church comparison? (by: DocGuin - 10/12/2012)
This is 2012, we now realize the ridiculous religious attitudes around the world, they are all cults. Its Scientific, its proven and its obvious. To use a church as an example of a place with "special rules" is ludicrous. That was 1850 not now.
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