African-American Girl Won’t Be Expelled for Her Hair

But the 12-year-old still has to style her locks in accordance with the school’s guidelines. It’s unclear what that means. 

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Vanessa VanDyke

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A 12-year-old African-American girl who said she was threatened with expulsion from an Orlando, Fla., private school unless she made changes to the look of her natural hair will not be booted out after all, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.

Last week, Vanessa VanDyke said school officials gave her one week to decide whether to cut and shape her locks or leave Faith Christian Academy. (According to her mom, that threat came only when the family complained that Vanessa was being bullied.)

Administrators told the WKMG in a statement Tuesday, “We’re not asking her to put products in her hair or cut her hair." However, they're by no means accepting her current look, either. "We’re asking her to style her hair within the guidelines according to the school handbook," the statement said.

It's unclear what those guidelines require or what it will take for her hair to comply with them.

VanDyke, who reportedly plans to discuss the school's suggestion with her mother over Thanksgiving break, appears to have her confidence intact, despite what many saw as unfair and even racist scrutiny of her hair.

“It says that I’m unique,” she said. “First of all, it’s puffy, and I like it that way. I know people will tease me about it because it’s not straight.”

On Friday, Ebony Magazine organized a #HappyAfroDay photo campaign in support of the middle-school student, encouraging readers to share pictures of their own similar hairstyles. Editors wrote, "We are still disheartened to know that there are people out there sending our children such horrible messages about the hair that grows out of their heads."

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