With the 50th anniversary of the historic and history-changing March on Washington culminating this week, much ink has been spewed about the status of civil rights in America today.
But what about the gingers? Turns out, this beleaguered minority found its own tenacious champion this week in Mabry Anderson, a 16-year-old student at Tavares High School in the nether suburbs of Orlanda, Fla.
On Tuesday, school officials told Anderson that her incandescent red hair was in violation of a policy at Tavares High prohibiting “unnatural” hair color, reports the Orlando Sentinel.
A local school district policy bans “extreme hairstyles, unnatural hair colors, or make-up that is disruptive or does not allow direct eye contact.”
Consequently, Anderson got written up, sent home and told to come back when she had modified her mane.
Anderson decided to stay home for two days, enduring unexcused absences. The social media-savvy student also started a Facebook page, promoting hairstyle self-determination. She called the page “Team Mabry.” It currently has almost 900 likes.
Cate Rettig, Anderson’s mother, supported her daughter’s efforts.
“I’m letting her fight her fight,” Rettig told the Sentinel. “And the kids are standing behind her.”
On Friday, Anderson boldly returned to school—with the same fire-engine red locks intact. She spent the better part of the day in an office, by herself, completing assignments.
By the end of the day, Anderson had overcome. The new principal, Janice Boyd, relented and allowed the student to return to school on Tuesday after Labor Day with her flaming-red tresses intact.
“It’s definitely a freedom of expression issue,” Mabry told the Sentinel.
Mabry said Principal Boyd concluded that her hair wasn’t actually disruptive.
Boyd did not confirm (or deny) this decision. A school district spokesman said the school board will review the hair and makeup policy during an upcoming workshop.
The Sentinel notes that school board members went back and forth about the wording of the policy in 2011. Suggestions included a prohibition on “extreme hair” and forbidding only hair that is “disruptive,” not merely “unnatural.”
Students get kicked out of American public schools for their hairdos on a fairly routine basis. Artificial gingers suffer a notable brunt of the punishment. In February, for example, a Utah high school student was suspended for dying her hair red and then allowed to return to classes because the color faded. (RELATED: Student, kicked out of school for having red hair, returns to class)
In April, a Springfield, Ohio kindergarten boy was sent home because school district officials deemed his Mohawk too cool school. The boy was a brunette. (RELATED: Badass Mohawk gets kindergartener suspended)