Petition to lift the ban of braids, locks, and twists at Central Catholic High School

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My name is JD Younger and I am a student at Central Catholic High School in Pittsburgh. I’m starting this petition in support of my friend who was told to change his hair or go home. This isn't the first time this threat has been made. It's been told to my other friends too, and even me. The ban on ethnic hairstyles in my school’s handbook has created an issue with African American male students like me. It is a ban that perpetuates racial bias and stigma that disproportionately affects African Americans. 

The handbook states that “hair must be its natural color, clean, neatly combed” and that “hairstyles with designs, patterns, lines, weaves, spikes, braids, locks, twists, or ponytails are not permitted.” This policy shows a lack of regard for ethnic and natural hair. 

While it is reasonable for my school to expect some degree of conventionality and neatness in hairstyles, these expectations ought to consider the diversity of natural hair textures people have. The problem is, hair that isn’t straightened doesn’t fit the white cultural norm. 

In the black community, hair has roots in our idea of blackness and self-esteem. Depriving me and other young adults of their cultural identity can have long term effects on one’s psyche. 

My friend is not the only person who has experienced this type of discrimination. In New Jersey, high school wrestler Andrew Johnson had to cut his dreadlocks ringside before being allowed to compete. In Florida, a 6-year old boy was denied entry to his school because of his dreadlocks. 

Central Catholic is a place where kids from all walks of life in the city of Pittsburgh come together and form a brotherhood. I love my school, but I can’t ignore this issue. The fact that kids have to worry about being able to express themselves while getting an education is a problem. We don’t need regulation, we need education. If more education was done on this issue, we can start to break down the stigma that our hair is unprofessional. 

California, Maryland, and New York have been recent advocates in protecting our natural hairstyles with The Crown Act, which hopefully will set a national precedent. We sincerely hope that administration and staff at The Pittsburgh Central Catholic and Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh can consider this matter at hand and that one day the students in our schools will be able to express themselves to the extent of their naturally ethnic ways.