A new Florida voucher program aiming to help bullied children transfer to private schools is also banning many natural hairstyles of incoming black students.
About 20 percent of schools participating in the program have hair policies many deem racist and discriminatory. According to NBC 2 News, the new law, dubbed the Hope Scholarship, will help students from kindergarten to 12th grade find new schools if they have experienced bullying during their academic career.
The voucher program was created to give students more options and escape the harsh learning environments preventing them from succeeding. Once their home school conducts an investigation proving the bullying, students can now attend private schools under the program.
State Representative Byron Donalds of Naples, who spearheaded the program, told the local outlet the program would help up to 6,500 students across the state.“What we’ve never done in our state is focus on the victims, and trying to make sure the victims have an opportunity to continue their academic careers," Donalds said.
However, critics have voiced concerns about the board language, and others have criticized some of the participating schools' hair policies.
In a Huffington Post report, the hair policies may make the program ineffective to black students. It states 23 schools have restrictive hairstyle policies; four have banned locs; five have banned braids and cornrows, and 10 percent of the schools have banned LGBTQ students.
“Those students are being told that black hair is somehow by its nature anti-education, by its nature distracting, by its nature illegitimate,” Emily Martin, vice president for education and workplace justice at the National Women’s Law Center, told HuffPost.
The majority of the private schools are Christian and have what HuffPost calls "ultra-evangelical" textbooks and curriculums that go against inclusion and promote racism, sexism, etc.
“The Florida Department of Education does not condone discrimination of any kind in Florida schools,” spokeswoman Audrey Walden wrote in an email to HuffPost. “Using a cursory review of private school handbooks, over which the state has no jurisdiction, to paint a negative picture of the Hope Scholarship Program is both deceptive and irresponsible.”
Over the past few weeks, some black students have been forced to leave schools because of their hair. In one case, 8-year-old Garrick Austin from Jacksonville, Florida, was forced to cut his hair or be kicked out of school. Another student who attended a Florida private school was sent home for having locs.
Now, check these out:
Not A Single Black Woman Can't Relate To This Video Of A Strange White Lady Touching This Woman's Braids
Third Grade Student Forced To Get A New Haircut After Being Accused Of Disregarding School Policy
Black Hair Policies At Work And School: Something Needs To Change, And It’s Not What’s On Top Of My Head