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Eight-Grader's Fancy Hair Cut is a "Gang Symbol" to School Administrators

Jay Cowell of River Road Middle School got a fancy haircut with a star, which he said is "for God and all the stuff he made on the earth."

But the school officials saw it differently, and declared the his haircut a "gang symbol" and suspended the eight-grader until he got it all shorn off.

Did the school do the right thing? Or are they just being a fuddy duddy? http://www.nbcdfw.com/news/weird/Boy_Suspended_Over__Gang_Symbol__Haircut_All__National_.html [Flash clip]


When I was in shop class in high school, I made a neckless charm of my suffix, a roman numeral 3. My shop teacher wouldn't let me wear it because it was a "gang symbol."
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Its obviously not a gang symbol. But it is beyond personal expression in that it is unprofessional and inappropriate for an 8th grader. He's no star-bellied sneech, just stupid (or stupid parents). Sure be independent, but at such an early age he's better off learning successful social cues that would keep him in school, and not in a gang or even a brand-name idolizing cultural wasteland. (run-on)
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i've learned that schools have a very broad range of whats considered a gang symbol.

chinese wooden bead bracelets were considered a gang symbol my junior year. marilyn manson shirts weren't allowed either, which i thought pretty funny since kids still wore band shirts that were ten times more vulgar, like cradle of filth.
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unprofessional for an 8th grader? wow, it's a haircut on a 14 year old... if thats a threat they better stop all the white kids with bald heads....
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I agree with Christopher, I thought we'd seen enough of this individualistic garbage where kids will do anything to flaunt the rules and get their names in the media. I rememeber when dennis rodman was going through his phase, some local high school kid was in the news because his dyed hair was causing a small ruckus.
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I honestly think this is the sort of thing protected by Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District, especially if the haircut was to express what the student said it was.

At my high school, we weren't allowed to wear bandannas, because they were "gang symbols." But if we folded them into hairbands, they were fine. Note that I live in a town of 4000 and there are no gangs. I think schools take "gang symbols" too far. Call me a crazy proponent of freedom of expression, but it's a slippery slope out there. I would rather have the freedom and never use it than it be taken away without a real reason.
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@Geekazoid

Love the line about "individualistic garbage" in a comment on a blog. Seems to me you're being a wee bit hypocritical on this one...

And something tell me this kid didn't roll into his local barber shop and ask for a haircut that'll get him in the news. If that was the case he could have let him imagination run a bit more wild and really offended some people.

Also, maybe we should lay off the kid and his "Stupid Parent" (Don't hurt yourself jumping to conclusions Christopher...) This is just an example of the school system overreacting and not doing proper research on what gang signs are most likely to be. Someone should warn people speaking in sign language they might be next...

Or i'm wrong, either way.
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This is absolutely stupid. Rather than actually doing something productive, the administration is basically picking on a kid for no good reason and hiding behind "it's a gang symbol", as ridiculous as the claim is. It is overreaction and idiocy, and the fact that the school obviously has no clue about gangs should scare parents and students because a real gang member would likely get away with whatever they want right under their noses.
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If the school has a uniform policy then they should enforce it and the kids should abide by it. And I do hate it when people are so quick to play the race card when I have no doubt that the same hairstyle with a white boy would be disallowed too.
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Stars are a very common Gangster Disciple symbol.

@Ted

Where do you thing gangs are most prevalent? Inner cities? You'd be wrong. "Middle America" is where the gangs are. Schools must take a hard line stance or be over run.

@ Rozeilla

Gangs no longer are affiliated with race lines. The white kid whose parents are married and take him to church every week is just as likely to be a gang member (and for many reasons those kids are more dangerous.
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@ geekazoid/christopher, are yall for fucking serious?

"unprofessional for an 8th grader" - wasn't aware 8th graders (children and STUDENTS) had any reason to be "professional." if anything those are the yrs to do a ton of stupid shit cuz you can get away with it BOOM

"individualistic garbage" - FASCIST FASCIST FASCIST, need i say more?

also obviously it is not a gang symbol, jst a cool haircut. some people...
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If they had a pre-existing rule that specifically forbade hair designs like this, and they enforce it uniformly, then I have no problem with the school's decision.

If however it was decided to be a problem after the student did it, then it smacks of something.....
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one would think you all would watch the video .
the schools manual supported their action and the video noted a star is used by gangs.

so many of you love to jump to conclusions.

btw the private high school i went to had a nearby public middle school nearby. it was not uncommon to have the middle schoolers pick fights with high schoolers. so they are not "just eighth graders". gotta love the naive.
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"misc
January 10th, 2009 at 5:21 pm

Good lord. Are we really this frightened by haircuts on (black) kids?"

just wonder if you say the same when a (white) kid wears a t shirt with a pro Religion or pro Bush statement.
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Ok, perhaps I used the word "unprofessional" a little foolishly. But don't jump on my words just my general message.
Oh and, 8th grade is not as young and carefree as some people seem to be saying in this blog.
And finally, one must accept the fact that the world has rules (many more ridiculous than this one). Schools have lots a rules. And this shaved star, obviously breaks a rule. Also society has rules and stereotypes. Generally, society infers that only thugs, gang members, and criminals shave designs in their hair. This kid knows that. But he obviously thinks its cool. So he shaves a star and aligns himself with that image. Not a good way to prep for high-school.
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Very well, Tyler.

If the kid's in a gang, banning his haircut won't help. Gangs just find other symbols to use. So when he gets a gold star on his homework, is the teacher passing along a gang symbol?

Ah, uptight middle America.
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Not sure about it's classification as gang symbol, maybe the school were just looking for a reason not to allow it. We certainly weren't allowed to have designs shaved onto our heads when I was at school 15+ years ago though. One kid was suspended for two weeks for having a pair of Ray-bans shaved into his hair. Quite right too, he's at school and should look smart.
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LoL @ AJ
Interesting @ Omnius
@ Christopher: what kind of profesionalism is appropriate for grade school?, c'mon man. & I never heard of the rule or sterotype that thugs, gang members, &/or criminals get shaved designs on their heads & i'm very familiar with the trend. The younger black celebrities are though (even tho that may mean thugs, criminals, and gang members to you) i.e. Chris Brown, Lil Bow Wow, and many other young black NBA players. (Daniel Gibson), so chill out people. Now if the kid pulled out his eyeball & ate it that wud be a different story
-B.
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@The Bol B: Those people may either fall into the "thug" category or the "brand-name idolizing cultural wasteland" category that I made reference to in an earlier post.
Ok 3 comments is my quota. I'll shut up now. This post is buried in the archives anyway.
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Sometimes it does seem like they're trying to force kids to grow up earlier, yet they still treat them like children. It is possible the star was completely innocent and the kid honestly got it for what he said he did. They're young, let them do small things like that now in life where it doesn't matter much. When they do grow up they won't be allowed to do it then in the workplace.
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Christopher the whole idea of "professionalism" in dress or appearance is a widely-held superstition. The only important part of professionalism, the part that actually effects whether or not things get done efficiently and ethically is doing your job or study the right way. Except in jobs where one's clothing actually improves or hurts one's ability to get something done or to do the job safely (bullet-proof vests for example) it's irrelevant and it actually harms society when people are excluded from things for those reasons since the most capable person for performing the task might not get the job. Of course if I was trying to get a job I would try to look 'professional' as far as what others think is professional but off work I'll do what I can to combat this superstition and if I ever actually became the boss I'd throw out any rules I could based on superstition those ones included. I've heard Google only requires its workers to wear clothes. That's the dress code. They got the right idea.

However, I can see how in this case it is actually relevant, since if you wear something that a gang uses even if you're not in a gang you might be mistaken for it by that gang's rivals and attacked so it's more than superstition in this case. Still they should've let the kid know and instead of suspending him send him home, tell him the reason, and to fix it (difference is in the school record).
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well sweetie they did give out imformation(before school began) on what the school expects the children to wear and to not wear, and they made sure the parents knew that if their child walked into the school doors with any gang related signs anywhere on their body they will be suspended!!!!!!! so actually thats their warning right there!!! Plus the school principals were being fair and gave MANY STUDENTS up to THREE DAYS!! to take away or make it disappear somehow sooooooooo THERE WAS NO EXCUSE @ ALL YOU FEEL ME!!
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OKAY I UNDERSTAND THAT UR SAYN THAT THE SCHOOL IS TRYING TO MAKE THE STUDENTS GROW UP FASTER, BUT I LOST YOU WHEN YOU SAID LET THEM DO LITTLE THINGS!!! IF YOU LET THEM DO LITTLE THINGS NOW THEY'RE GONNA TAKE THE LITTLE THINGS TOOOO SERIOUS AND THEN BECOME PEOPLE THAT THEY ARE NOT FOR EXAMPLE A GANG MEMBER SOOO NO LIL THINGS SHOULD BE ALLOWED AT ALL!!!
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okay Rozeilla it so happens that the person who suspended this child is the same color sooo YOU need to get ur FACT straight before you post anything else up!! if u dnt know nothing dnt assume anything or be jumping to conclusions thank-you very much and this goes out too everybody who posted up stupid comments and dnt no not a peice of imformation!!!
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LOOK YALL THIS MISUNDERSTANDING DOESNT HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH RACISM SOOO CAN YALL PLEASE STOP TRYINGFIT THAT SUBJECT IN THIS PARTICULAR SUBJECT!! ITS LIKE A PUZZLE THAT DOESNT FIT SOOO PLEASE GET OVER THE RACISM CAUSE IF THEY WERE RACIST I BELEIVE NO AFRICAN AMERICAN CHILDREN WOULD BE GOING TO THAT SCHOOL AND IF YOU LOOK AROUND THATS ALL THATS THERE AT THAT SCHOOL SOOO SHUT-UP!!!
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