After learning their son’s principal allegedly questioned the direction of his life because of his braids, Ashley and Damon Thorn decided to continue his education journey elsewhere.
On May 15, Calvary Baptist School student Dalon Thorn was excited to sport a new hairstyle, cornrows. Although he liked his new look, some of the faculty at the private school weren’t a fan of it. According to Angelyn Mesman, the school’s principal, some staff members voiced they were concerned even though it didn’t violate the code of conduct manual. When Dalon’s mom picked him up from school and wanted to know how his day went, he shared how he felt after Mesman allegedly asked him if his braids were symbolic of being a part of a gang, NOLA reported.
“I picked him up, just like normal and asked how was your day? How did your friends like your braids?” Ashley told the news outlet. “We’re driving out of the parking lot and he said the principal pulled him aside today and asked if his braids represented being a gangster.”
She said she was upset and confused because the code of conduct states, “An acceptable well-groomed haircut is required of all male students” and “hair will not reach shoulder length nor will bangs be long enough to cover eyes. Rat-tail and Mohawk-type haircuts are not acceptable. Dreadlocks and afros over 3″ are not acceptable. Man buns and sculpting are not acceptable. Colored hair, feathers, and extreme styles are not allowed.”
She was shocked by the statement because her son’s hair was in code, and she immediately told her husband. Ready to take a stand for their son and get clarification on why Mesman allegedly said that, they met with her the next day. The Thorns recorded the entire conversation, which lasted for 16 minutes, to have proof. The audio allegedly captures the principal telling the parents that she had a one-on-one conversation with Dalon to ensure she didn’t make him feel uncomfortable or humiliated in front of others.
“I’ve never had a student wear their braids like that. I’ve had teachers personally come to me and ask about his hair and what I thought about it,” Mesman allegedly said during the conversation.
According to NOLA, she went on to allegedly say that she asked the question in good taste because they’re at a Christian school and she wanted to check in with Dalon since she has seen firsthand other students switch up and make negative life choices.
“I have seen children grow up in this school and I’ve seen them change, so I was just checking to see where we are. I just wanted to see his heart. Our culture is changing. Little boys used to have regular little haircuts,” Mesman allegedly said, according to NOLA. “I’m seeing a lot of young people listening to a lot of rappers pushing for drugs and doing things opposite of Christ.”
In addition to the ignorant suggestion that cornrows may be a sign of gang affiliation, this incident spread quickly and sparked conversation because the CROWN Act, which prohibits employment discrimination based on hairstyles and hair textures historically associated with race, went into effect in the state of Louisiana on Aug. 1, 2022.
Since Calvary Baptist School is a private institution, the law doesn’t protect Dalon. It is unknown at this time if the Thorns are going to press any charges.