A Texas woman says a school superintendent told her 4-year-old grandson he could either get a haircut or put on a dress.
At a Monday night school board meeting in Tatum, Randy Woodley railed against what she perceives as a discriminatory dress code policy that’s affecting her grandson Michael, who also goes by “Tink.”
Woodley’s ire was sparked by a recent encounter with school officials, who asked her for a meeting and then said Michael’s hair was too long, NBC affiliate WMC Action News 5 reported.
“And the superintendent then gave me three options,” Woodley told Action News 5 in an interview aired Thursday. “He told me that I could either cut it, braid it and pin it up or put my grandson in a dress and send him to school. And when prompted, my grandson must say he’s a girl.”
The school’s dress code prohibits male students from wearing “ponytails, ducktails, rat-tails, male buns, or puff balls.” Boys’ hair must not “extend past the top of a T-shirt collar,” according to the rules.
Kambryn Cox, another parent whose son is enrolled in the Tatum Independent School District, is also outraged.
“My son came home, and said that, ‘Mom, I think there’s something wrong with my hair,’” Cox told Action News 5.
She told the local news outlet that she tried to accommodate school policy by putting her son’s long dreadlocks up into a ponytail.
“With my son’s dreadlocks, sometimes they do fall in front of his face,” Cox said. “So I felt it would be easier to put his hair up, but then that’s a problem.”
“I teach him to be his own individual, and I don’t think he should ever feel insecure,” Cox added.
A culture clash on gender
The situation in Tatum could likely be viewed as a clash between traditional views on masculinity and progressive-minded perspectives that seek to erode gender stereotypes.
LGBT activists have spearheaded a rapid advance in trans, gay and gender rights in recent years. However, even some supporters of the movement worry that it is overturning gendered social institutions without due consideration.