Stop Legacy of Forced Assimilation for Native American Youth


Target: Todd Ferguson, Superintendent of Girard Unified School District

Goal: Revise guidelines dictating hairstyles and other cultural expressions of students.

An eight-year-old Kansas boy was reportedly forced to cut his hair or face school suspension. The boy is a member of the Wyandotte Nation tribe, where long hair for males is a common custom except during times of grieving. The family of this student apparently explained the situation and asked for a religious exemption but was denied. Now advocates are calling on this school district to revise its policy that states “hair is not to touch the collar of a crew neck t-shirt, cover the eyebrows, or extend below the earlobes.”

This incident follows similar stories in other schools where minority students’ rights to ancestral expression were allegedly violated. Another recent situation involved a Black student being suspended for wearing his hair in a manner that aligned with his African ancestry. And a graduating female student of Mexican descent was reportedly reprimanded for wearing a sash honoring her culture. The issue of hairstyle is particularly fraught for many indigenous tribes because historically Native American children were forced to cut their hair at boarding schools in an attempt to assimilate them and erase their heritage.

The school district will reportedly reevaluate its policy soon. Sign the petition below to urge an end to this needlessly discriminatory dictate.


Dear Superintendent Ferguson,

“The length of your hair has nothing to do with your ability to learn or your ability to go to school.” A spokesperson for the American Civil Liberties Union aptly delivered the primary argument for an immediate amendment of the Girard Unified School District’s hairstyle policy. The boy at the center of this latest case represents many children who feel stigmatized and shamed because of their ancestry and heritage.

Why do leaders of this region only support religious freedom if it happens to align with the majority religion? And why is this arbitrary hairstyle rule for males even in place for any other reason than forcing children to conform to traditional gender stereotypes? Do not subject your minority students to any more undue stress and oppression.

You recently expressed that “nothing matters more to the USD 248 district and staff than creating a safe, respectful and caring school for every student.” Back up these words with decisive action. Revoke this unneeded and unwanted policy for the sake of this student and all young people whose future you help shape.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: DtheDelinquent

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761 Signatures

  • Juan Canet
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