In Louisiana, a teen has missed almost every day of the new semester because his school says his dreadlocks are too long.
The teen is a Rastafarian follower.
What Is Rastafarianism?
Before delving into the teen’s suspension, let’s take a brief look at what Rastafarianism is.
Rastafarianism is a religion that regards Africa as the promised land, and all true believers will return again. It originated in Jamaica. They view the late Ethiopian emperor, Haile Selassi I, as the messiah promised.
As with all religions, there are customs and rites.?One of the traditional rites of this religion is to keep the hair long. It is never cut which is in keeping with Leviticus 19:27 commandment of not rounding your hair or trimming your beard. This is part of this boy’s religion.
However, even though this is part of his religion, the LA school has given him an unlimited suspension, since he cannot cut his hair.?A week after the initial suspension, he came back to school with his hair pinned up. He was sent home yet again, this time with the unlimited suspension.?His mother did get a letter from their church explaining about the dreadlocks, and the superintendent reportedly told her that that wasn’t a good enough reason.
However, he still has not been officially suspended.
The Big Deal
So, some of you are probably wondering why this is even a big deal? Just cut them and go forward, right?
For Rastafarians, their hair is a religious icon. With this school’s actions, they are showing a preference for religions, and that does violate the first amendment.
When one student is told that they cannot have their religious icons or follow their religion in some manner, it is saying that their religion isn’t worthy to receive respect. This is comparable to telling a Christian that they cannot wear a cross or a Muslim lady their hair covering.
It is a violation of their constitutional rights as guaranteed here in the United States.
The ACLU has stepped in, and hopefully, this young man will soon be reinstated in his school to continue his education.
This has most likely had a detrimental effect on his education due to missed classes, lectures, and homework assignments. He needs to be back in school continuing his education, and his religious freedoms need to be left alone by school officials.
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edited by hl