NATIONAL NEWS

Kansas school forced 8-year-old Native American boy to cut his hair, ACLU says

Nov 18, 2023, 12:59 PM

MISSION, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas grade school forced an 8-year-old Native American boy to cut off his hair after he grew it out for cultural reasons, the American Civil Liberties Union said.

In a letter sent Friday, the ACLU demanded that the Girard School District rescind a policy at the elementary school that bars long hair for boys, alleging it violates state and federal laws.

The boy, who is member of the Wyandotte Nation, attended an annual tribal gathering geared toward children over the summer. He saw many men with long hair and was inspired to adopt the common cultural practice of cutting hair only when mourning the loss of a loved one, according to the ACLU.

But in August, school officials told him that he needed to cut his hair to comply with the dress code, the ACLU said. His mother went to the school in September and explained that he grew out his hair for cultural reasons and offered to show documentation of his tribal affiliation. The ACLU said she was told there were no exemptions.

The assistant principal then emailed the mother on a Friday, telling her she had until the following Monday to get her son’s hair cut or he would be sent home.

Unable to reach the superintendent, she cut her son’s hair over that September weekend, convinced it was the only way to keep him in school. But she said it caused him distress because it violated his spiritual tradition.

The superintendent, Todd Ferguson, said in an email that he can’t discuss individual students, families or employees because of confidentiality laws. But he added that the board of education would review the dress code policy during a December meeting.

“Nothing matters more than creating a safe, respectful and caring school for every student,” he said.

The ACLU’s letter said the nation’s history of “multifaceted efforts to separate Native American children from their families and tribes and to deny them their rights of cultural and religious expression” makes this particularly problematic.

It noted that Native American children often had their hair cut when they were placed in boarding schools, which systematically abused students to assimilate them into white society.

The letter said there is no legitimate reason for imposing the requirement, noting that girls are allowed to have long hair. The policy also promotes “rigid views of gender norms and roles,” the letter said.

Girard has a population of around 2,500 and is located about 115 miles (185 kilometers) south of Kansas City.

National News

FILE - An eBay app is shown on a mobile phone, July 11, 2019, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, Fil...

Associated Press

Member of eBay security team sentenced in harassment scheme involving bloody Halloween pig mask

BOSTON (AP) — The former senior manager of special operations for eBay Inc.’s. global security team was sentenced Thursday in federal court in Boston for his role in a cyberstalking campaign that included sending a preserved fetal pig, a bloody pig Halloween mask and a book on surviving the loss of a spouse to a […]

33 minutes ago

Associated Press

Some convictions overturned in terrorism case against Muslim scholar from Virginia

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — A judge has overturned a conviction carrying a life sentence for an Islamic scholar from Virginia who was found guilty of soliciting treason after the Sept. 11 attacks for encouraging followers to fight against the U.S. in Afghanistan. The ruling issued Thursday from U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema overturns three of […]

44 minutes ago

FILE - This undated booking photo provided by the Missouri Department of Corrections shows Sandra H...

Associated Press

Three courts agree that a woman deemed wrongfully convicted should be freed. She still isn’t.

A circuit judge, an appellate court and the Missouri Supreme Court agree that a woman whose murder conviction was overturned should be free after 43 years in prison. Yet Sandra Hemme is still behind bars, leaving her lawyers and legal experts puzzled. “I’ve never seen it,” said Michael Wolff, a former Missouri Supreme Court judge […]

51 minutes ago

FILE - Shown is the Pennsylvania Capitol building, Dec. 8, 2015, at the state Capitol in Harrisburg...

Associated Press

Political divisions stall proposed gun policies in Pennsylvania, where assassin took aim at Trump

Months before an armed man took aim at Donald Trump at a presidential campaign rally in rural Pennsylvania, some state lawmakers had proposed to outlaw the type of rifle used in the assassination attempt. The legislation stalled without coming to a vote, but that was no surprise. Politically divided Pennsylvania has been at a standstill […]

1 hour ago

This photo provided by Matthew Linehan shows a flood-damaged potato field at Sparrow Arc Farm in Gu...

Associated Press

Vermont farmers take stock after losing crops to flooding two years in a row

BARNET, Vt. (AP) — Exactly one year to the date of last year’s severe flooding in Vermont, Joe’s Brook Farm was flooded again by the remnants of Hurricane Beryl. This time it was worse. Workers were able to harvest some of the produce before last week’s flooding, but the family-owned vegetable farm still lost 90% […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

South Dakota anti-abortion group appeals ruling that dismissed its lawsuit over ballot initiative

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — An anti-abortion group in South Dakota is appealing to the state’s Supreme Court after a judge dismissed its lawsuit to take an abortion rights initiative off the November ballot. In a statement, Life Defense Fund Co-Chair Leslee Unruh said the group has asked for an expedited order from the court “because […]

3 hours ago

Kansas school forced 8-year-old Native American boy to cut his hair, ACLU says