Middle school was the time when we had no idea who we wanted to be as adults. Because of this, it was also the time to discover what makes us so unique.
In her attempt to do so, thirteen-year-old Lauren McDowell had tried a new hairdo and got sent home from her school — twice!
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In 2015, we learned of McDowell’s story of unwelcomed self-expression.
A 13-year-old was sent home from school for sporting this “crazy” hairdo.
With the help of her mother, Yvonne, “the young girl chose to shave off the hair on one side. She then took it a step further, using brown and blonde dye, to create a playful leopard-print design.”
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However, McDowell and her mother were unknowingly going against South Yorkshire’s Forge Valley School’s “strict uniform policy.”
The school’s head teacher, Dale Barowclough, stated that “The policy clearly states that extreme haircuts, including hair color, are not allowed,” therefore McDowell ended up being sent home from school.
In an effort to work with her school’s dress code, McDowell then showed up the next day with a bandana tied around her head in order to cover up the creative hairstyle. But to her surprise, she got sent home once again.
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McDowell’s mother fully stood by her daughter and believed that “the school has infringed upon Lauren’s human rights.”
As Yvonne had also explained, “Lauren was bullied at school and it has taken her a while to build up her confidence. She is devastated. She loves school. She is not a bad pupil. She works hard. I have explained to the school that I can understand its uniform policy and I totally agree with it but you cannot tell anyone how their hair should be styled.”
She further stated, “She had the haircut about a week before she went back to school. No one has the right to tell someone what to do with their body. It is her body.”
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McDowell’s mom proclaimed that her child didn’t sign away her rights by signing up for school.
The outraged mother believed that schools should allow their students to express themselves. She also believed that her daughter was “being discriminated against based on how she looks, which is definitely not okay.”
The entire experience left Yvonne wondering, “What has her hair got to do with her education?” And because her daughter’s creativity got her sent home twice, Yvonne revealed, “She will never be going back to that school. She has a legal right to an education no matter what she looks like.”
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In a society that’s constantly telling people to be the same, it was refreshing to see someone so young expressing herself. But it’s a shame that this school didn’t seem to agree.