Louisiana Catholic School Rescinds Hair Policy Deemed Discriminatory Against Black Girls

Faith Fennidy’s family and their attorney held a news conference Friday after the story about Faith and another girl getting kicked out of their Louisiana Catholic school for wearing braided extensions in violation of a new school policy implemented over the Summer.

After the Families Black Girls  kicked out of their Louisiana Catholic School last week for violating a ban on hair extensions sued, a judge blocked the ban and the school  rescinded its policy following much public outcry.

It happened in Boston, Massachusetts last year.

It happened in Louisville, Kentucky in 2016.

It happened in the US Navy until this year.

It happens in the corporate Workplace daily.

And the federal courts in the US recently said it was okay.

I am talking about discriminating against or banning black hair worn in braided styles and extensions. Sadly, it is too common in a society that has historically policed the bodies and hair of people of African heritage and descent. It’s not just a US thing either.

In South Africa, school officials forced black girls to straighten their hair to make it more acceptable and less unruly. Black hair routinely gets penalized in corporate and non-traditional jobs even once at a makeup counter at a department store where one black beauty blogger was told her braids weren’t high end enough to represent a brand and was denied a job because of them.

The latest installment of this hair discrimination came this week at the start of the new school year at Christ the King Elementary School in Terrytown, Louisiana.

Shortly after class began, the school sent 11-year-old Faith Fennidy home because she broke a rule on wearing hair extensions.  Fennidy had worn thick extensions with her hair for two years before the school made a rule change over the summer, banning unnatural hair, her mother, Montrelle Fennidy, told NBC News affiliate WDSU.

Faith’s brother, Steven Evergreen Fennidyposted video of Faith walking out of school on Facebook with her family after being told her hairstyle was unacceptable.

“Extensions make the hair easier to maintain,” Steven Evergreen Fennidy wrote on the social media site. “It allows my sister to have access to the swimming pool without having to get her hair Re-done every night. How do you make a policy without even having a discussion. It’s because you don’t care and it’s just one more barrier to entry for black people.”

He said the policy prohibiting “extensions, clip-ins or weaves” was added over the summer.

Faith’s family and the family of Tyrielle Davis, also removed from school, filed a legal petition arguing that the policy is discriminatory and adversely affects minority girls. A civil court judge granted a temporary restraining order against Christ King School following backlash over a hair policy that was implemented this school year.

Faith’s family has since withdrawn her from the school and is looking to place her elsewhere.

Archdiocese of New Orleans Catholic schools superintendent RaeNell Billiot Houston said the school has rescinded the portion of its uniform policy having to do with hair extensions and the school’s principal and  pastor have welcomed the girls to return.

That will not take away the shock and embarrassment from being drawn out of class and sent home. And having to leave her friends and favorite teachers and school environment is also unfair even if it was her mom’s decision to do leave the school.

Houston added that the school is working with Christ the King School and all of the archdiocesan schools to create a uniform policy that is “sensitive to all races, religions, and cultures” going forward.

The Fennidys canceled a meeting with the school scheduled for today, a local news report states.

Editor’s note My daughter wears her hair in braided hair extensions because they allow her hair to stay coiffed and neat for a longer period of time than if she braided her own hair. As Faith’s brother wrote, the style is also perfect for swimming which my daughter does year round.

Braided extensions are a perfect hair option that is best for black girls and banning them does in fact unfairly target black girls disproportionately who rely on the style for ease of maintenance and practical reasons moreso than for style.

Faith Fennidy’s hair is not unacceptable even in a strict Catholic school environment by a long shot

If the purpose of the rule was to ban outrageous extensions of the colorful and crazy exotic variety, then certainly the neatly done and more than appropriate style Faith wore to school was nothing like that at all.

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