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    10 Times Schools Failed To Embrace Black Girl Students

    "[My principal] wanted to embarrass me ... like my natural hair was ugly."

    1. When an assistant principal told this Florida high schooler her natural Afro was a violation of school rules.

    2. When this student was told to cut her hair or leave her private school.

    3. When these twins got detention and were expelled from track, Latin club, and prom for wearing box braids.

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    Earlier this year, 15-year-old twins Mya and Deanna Cook, students at Mystic Valley Regional Charter School in Malden, Massachusetts, told BuzzFeed News that they were "repeatedly punished for their hair extensions, which are against the school's dress code." In a school handbook, the dress code also stated that it prohibited "'fades' that are commonly worn by black male students, and 'Afros' that are most likely to be worn by black students (both male and female)."

    In a letter to parents and guardians, Alexander Dan, the interim director of the school, stated, "We foster a culture that emphasizes education rather than style, fashion, or materialism. ... The specific prohibition on hair extensions, which are expensive and could serve as a differentiating factor between students from dissimilar socioeconomic backgrounds, is consistent with our desire to create such an educational environment." (Totally not the point here, but you can get braiding hair for as little as $1.00 a pack, FYI.) After backlash from students, parents, and media, the Massachusetts attorney general told the school to end the ban.

    4. When South African high school girls were barred from taking exams if they didn't straighten their natural hair.

    Tiisetso Phetla former pupil at the school says, she experienced this #StopRacismAtPretoriaGirlsHigh

    Students at Pretoria High, an all-girls school in South Africa, protested last year after school rules restricted them from wearing locs or their natural hair textures. The protest was sparked when students reported that the administration told them to straighten their hair or be barred from taking school examinations. During the protest, authorities also threatened to make arrests. The protest went viral and began trending on social media with #StopRacismAtPretoriaGirlsHigh.

    Andrek Panyaza Lesufi, the head of education for the Gauteng province in South Africa, eventually responded, "I'm truly sorry and I can assure you that it ends here," according to News24, as reported by BuzzFeed News. "You have my support and I will protect you. Your pain will never again continue for as long as I'm still the [member of the Executive Council] in this province."

    5. When school administration told this student and other girls with natural hair that their hair was "inappropriate" and "not groomed."

    6. When this mom's 8-year-old daughter was removed from her advanced class because her hair was making the teacher "sick."

    7. When a teacher allegedly lied and said this student was bullied about the smell of her hair-care product.

    8. When this student wasn't allowed to take her exams unless she straightened or "tied up" her hair.

    Unathi Gongxeka was told she will not write her exams if she does not change her Afro. Read The Herald for more.

    Unathi Gongxeka told South Africa's Herald she felt violated and victimized last year after teachers at her school, Lawson Brown High, allegedly told her to straighten her hair "before they attempted to tie up her Afro in order 'to make it more beautiful.'" If she didn't comply, she would not be permitted to take her examinations.

    The principal, Donovan Cairncross, said that the school was enforcing a long-standing rule regarding hair and it applied to all pupils. Gongxeka refused to straighten her hair and said that she would involve her father if administrators wouldn't let her take exams. Another student told the local outlet that "I have a natural Afro, but a teacher told me I need to comb my hair because it looks like a bird's nest." After a meeting with the school's governing body and the Eastern Cape Education Department, the school suspended its code of conduct regulations regarding hair.

    9. When a school expelled an elementary student for wearing her natural hair in locs.

    10. When administrators told these twin sisters to remove their braids because the style didn't represent the school.

    Tahbisa says the school wants her and Grace to 'look like everyone else'. Photo: Eddie Jim / The Age via @theage

    Earlier this year, twin sisters Grace and Tahbisa were allegedly removed from their classes at Bentleigh Secondary College in Melbourne because their box braids "[don't] represent the school," according to the Age Victoria. The twins told the outlet that they'd been wearing their hair in braids since they were babies, and the school was attacking their African culture. "They are asking us to look like everyone else," said Grace.

    In an effort to justify its ruling, the school said that "white students who have returned from holidays in Bali have also been asked to remove their braids or cornrows." Tahbisa responded that the two instances are very different, and the latter is cultural appropriation. Grace and Tahbisa, who have been attending the school since they were 7, said their braids had not been an issue until this year. After pushback from the twins — and the internet — the school said it is "comfortable with students expressing their cultural heritage and will allow the girls to wear the braids as an exception," according to Yahoo News.