Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Never Underestimate the Power of Arrogant Stupidity

Just when I wrote in my last post that kids seem to be tougher on one another than they were 20 years ago, along came this story.

I threw my hands up in the air after reading that story.  My first thought was, "There has to be more than this.  There has to be another angle or side that I'm missing.  No school administration is so bull-headed and stubborn that it would actually suspend a student because her hair looked purple and/or pink in light."

I scoured the internet trying to find any such counterpoint.  No such luck.

Now I don't know what's worse: social pressure from bullies in school, or school administrators who can't see past their absurdly over-the-top policies.  Rylee MacKay - the main student involved in the story - wasn't trying to push any boundaries.  She wasn't trying to skirt around any loophole.  She wasn't trying to stir up any trouble.  No, she just liked coloring her hair an auburn color.  In fact, you'll notice in the picture included with the link above her hair doesn't even look terribly artificially colored.

So what if the light reflecting off her hair makes a few strands look purple or pink?  For that matter, isn't such a perception subjective in nature?  The school district's written policy stated a student's hair "should be within the spectrum of color that grows naturally."  The administrators have the right to question any student's hair color becomes distracting.

That's an incredibly broad scope covered in such a policy.  And like I said, the decision-making process is entirely subjective.  One teacher's reaction could be entirely different from another.  Hell, what about teachers who might be color-blind?  How could they enforce such a policy?

Moreover, the punishment for this poor student is beyond absurd.  Nothing I've read has indicated she was any kind of repeat offender, so instead of a verbal warning or something similar, she was dragged into the office and isolated so no other students could see her for the remainder of the week.  Forgiving the policy's natural absurdity for a moment, what's wrong with a verbal warning for a first offense?  Why go directly to proverbial jail?  And what happens if the student does become a repeat offender?  What other courses of action are left at that point?

During my high school years there were a number of students who dressed more alternatively than others.  Some of them had some wacky hair colors and wore tattered clothes, but that was what they had liked at the time.  I have no idea if they still dress anything like what they used to in high school, but I never saw any harm in how they dressed.  The people who had originally came up with the policy probably assumed teenagers who had colored their hair in abnormal colors and/or dressed in tattered clothes were troublemakers, which is absurd to the point of being offensive.  Talk about judging a book by its cover.

What's worse - and even more offensive - is that the people who had put this dress code in place thought they could control kids' behaviors by subjecting them to it.  The principal himself even mentioned that what typically happens when students violate the code is a hair color job gone awry.  They had planned on coloring their hair a particular shade, but it accidentally turned out to be something darker or lighter.  Whatever behavior or actions the administration is attempting to curtail through this policy isn't happening.

I do understand the logic behind certain dress codes for public schools though.  Skirts can be too short, dresses can be too revealing, and outfits can be too tight (Am I the only one who finds it interesting that it's almost always teen girls who are targets of dress code violations in schools?  When was the last time you heard of a teenage boy who had worn something too revealing or inappropriate?).  There comes a point when logic and reason jump ship, and we end up with policies like what this school district in Utah has.

Knowing what I know about government laws and such, I also know the somewhat unfortunate truth about policies such as this one in Utah. The truth is, even if enough parents and students raised hell over this policy, I doubt the school district could take much action even if it wanted to. There are thousands of stupid laws in this country from state to state, and even if these laws are archaic and useless, they can't be repealed because of the expense involved. Committees would have to form, boards would investigate, and lawmakers would have to build campaigns large enough to gain voter support. The end goal wouldn't justify the expense involved, and I suspect the case would be similar to schools like this one in Utah.  I guess we're all at the whim of silly, outdated laws to some extent in our lives. Common sense and logic take a back seat.

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