When Jessica Oates sent her 4-year-old son to his first day of kindergarten in the Houston area, she hadn't yet signed a letter stating that his shoulder-length hair, which has never been cut, is long for cultural or religious reasons. Part Cocopah Indian, Oates tells Inside Edition that long hair is a symbol of strength, adding to the Houston Chronicle that "it's part of my child" and cutting it is "not an option." Now Oates claims that Barbers Hill Independent School District kicked her son out of school before its stated deadline for providing the letter, citing in a statement that "our local elected board has an established policy based on community expectations" that it will "continue to implement."
Oates goes on to tell Inside Edition that her son, Jabez, "likes his hair" and "doesn't understand why he is not allowed in school over something so trivial." Via a video she posted to Facebook, Oates says she hopes to call attention to the dress-code issue that another Texas mother described earlier this month as "sexist" after her own son tried growing his hair long to donate to cancer patients, per Raw Story. This week, Oates says Jabez wasn't even allowed out of the car at the school drop-off point because his long hair, which was tied in a bun, still violated the dress code. She plans to raise the issue at a school board meeting next month. (Another dress code policy regarding hair has been criticized for targeting black girls.)