STAFF EDITORIAL: Government should not dictate fashion standards
A 17-year-old boy was sent home from Nimitz High School for wearing a wig to school Monday. O’Rhonde Chapman said it was just the latest addition to his daily practice of dressing like a woman.
What appears on the surface as a clear-cut case of discrimination is actually a matter of a government entity dictating a social norm.
Aldine Independent School District officials told the Houston Chronicle that Chapman’s removal had nothing to do with his practice of dressing like a woman, which Chapman said he has done for two years, but because the wig violated the district’s dress code for males.
Aldine ISD does not allow male students to wear their hair – or wigs, for that matter – longer than the bottom of the shirt collar.
When did the government start deciding what a male should or shouldn’t look like? As a society we should have evolved from the days of defining certain appearances as normal or abnormal. Some will argue that Chapman’s practice was disturbing to the education process, but the ability to ignore is a trait’ that humans need to be reminded that they possess.
Chapman is experiencing the same treatment as Adriel Arocha, an elementary school student of Native American descent who is battling Needville ISD’s hair length policy. Though Arocha’s desire to wear his hair long stems from Native American religious beliefs, the root of the issue remains the same.
Both cases basically boil down to conformity. The practice of men wearing their hair cropped comes from war traditions, and it was almost a necessity in order for soldiers to avoid being grabbed by their long locks.
This is just the latest example of a ‘norm’ that needs to be reexamined. We are supposed to be the model by which other societies can base their own melting-pot populations. That model takes a big hit when it’s made with only one type of material, and it is past time to expand our palette.