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Couple in Ohio won't send their kids to school over hair policy

Locs, braids and design cuts for boys are not allowed
Posted at 1:33 PM, Aug 19, 2020

COLERAIN TOWNSHIP, Ohio -- A couple in Ohio said their children are no longer welcome at their school because of their hairstyle. The parents said they refuse to cut their sons’ locs in order to conform.

“I don’t see how his hair stops him from learning or doing anything else,” Tina Johnson said.

Nate and Tina Johnson's 6-year-old son, Asten, has been enrolled at Zion Temple Christian Academy for the past three years with no issue – but when they reached out to enroll their 3-year-old, they were told both boys were not allowed to have locs.

“At this point, I’m fighting for my son,” Tina Johnson said.

For the Johnsons, their hair and their heritage are intertwined. It’s a message they passed on to their children.

“He doesn’t need to conform to fit any kind of mold,” Tina Johnson said.

The family said they were disappointed to find out the predominantly-Black school they’ve been sending Asten to since Pre-K wouldn’t take him back with his hair in a certain style.

“If this was a school in a different neighborhood, I don’t think the sting would be as hard,” she said.

The Zion Temple Christian Academy in Avondale sent out an email saying "hair must be cut one inch short." Braids and design cuts for boys are also banned. WCPO reached out to Zion Temple Christian Academy for comment on this story but could not reach anyone who was allowed to comment on the school’s hair policy.

“I’m sure it’s grown some, but it’s not drastically different from what it was in the school year,” she said. “He did start transitioning to this loc journey during the school year.”

The Johnsons will be enrolling their kids in other schools – a tough, last-minute decision they said they feel they have no choice but to make.

“It’s okay to be who you are, be confident in your own skin and relish that,” Nate Johnson said. “It’s something that you should be proud of. It’s something that you shouldn’t try and change.”

This story was first reported by Kristen Swilley at WCPO in Cincinnati, Ohio.