by Native News Network Staff in Native Currents. Discussion »
DENHAM SPRINGS, LOUISIANA - Seth Chaisson’s decision to honor his American Indian heritage and spirituality by growing his hair longer has cut short his education - at least for the time being.
Many American Indians grow their hair long as a means to honor their spirituality. They only cut the hair at a time of mourning.
Honor their Spirituality
Thirteen-year old Chaisson, an enrolled member of the United Tribes of Houma, is coming of age and identifying with this American Indian belief. He decided to grow his hair out. His hair touches the collar, but apparently his bangs touch his eyebrows.
Chaisson, who is in the sixth grade, was suspended from the Juban Parc Junior High School in Denham Springs, which is near Baton Rouge, earlier this month. He is suspended for every day he refuses to comply with the Livingston Parish School District school policy that forbids hair from exceeding a certain length.
The American Civil Liberties Foundation of Louisiana, based in New Orleans, took Chaisson’s case and has cited the First Amendment’s right of religious freedom to object to the suspension.
“The wearing of hair for Seth is akin to the wearing of a religious icon by a student.
We would object if the school were to tell a Christian child that she could not wear her cross, or if it were to permit the wearing of religious icons of one faith and prohibited those of another faith,”
wrote Katie Schwartzmann, legal director of ACLU Foundation of Louisiana in a letter dated March 15 to Juban Parc Junior High Assistant Principal Jeff Frizell.
On Tuesday of this week, the ACLU sent legal representation to a hearing. The hearing referee said he has no power to overturn the principal’s decision. He said only the superintendent can do so.
“There are no other discipline problems,”
reported Marjorie Esman, director of the American Civil Liberties Foundation of Louisiana.
“This is about the length of his hair.”
It was reported that Livingston Parish School District’s Superintendent Bill Spear will make a determination by Friday. Mr. Spear did not return telephones calls from the Native News Network.
In the meantime, another Native student is suspended from a public school. His decision to have long hair cuts short his education.
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