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Five-year-old Navajo boy sent home from school for his long hair

Filed Under: Education | National
More on: 5th circuit, mascots, navajo, religion, texas, youth

Malachi Wilson before his first day of school. Photo from Facebook

A five-year-old boy who is a member of the Navajo Nation was sent home from kindergarten for having long hair.

April Wilson said her son, Malachi, was excited for the first day of school on Monday at F.J. Young Elementary in Texas. But he was disappointed when he was told the length of his hair violated school policy.

"Certain recognized religious or spiritual beliefs may qualify for an exception from provisions of the dress code," the policy states. "However, any exceptions must receive prior approval by the campus administrator."

YouTube: Seminole Student Sent Home to Cut Hair, Parents Say It’s Against His Religion

Wilson said her son was finally allowed to attend school on Tuesday after the Navajo Nation and the local American Indian Movement got involved. The principal reportedly asked the family to verify Malachi's tribal heritage.

“It’s kind of heart breaking because how do you explain to a five-year-old that he is being turned away because of what he believes in, because of his religion, because of what’s part of him, how do you explain that to him?” Wilson told ABC 7.

A similar case arose in the state when an Apache boy wasn't allowed to wear long hair at school. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the school's policy in A.A. v Needville Independent School District in 2010.

The school district uses a "Seminole" mascot. Image from F.J. Young Elementary

F.J. Young is part of thee Seminole Independent School District, whose mascot is the "Seminole" and is depicted as a man with long hair.

Get the Story:
Seminole Student Sent Home to Cut Hair, Parents Say It’s Against His Religion (CBC7 8/26)
Navajo Kindergartener Told to Cut his Hair, Sent Home on First Day of School (Color Lines 8/27)
Five-Year-Old Navajo Boy Denied Admission on First Day of School Because His Hair is Too Long (Native News Online 8/27)

5th Circuit Decision:
A.A. v Needville Independent School District (July 9, 2010)

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