A Utah mother is saying that her teenage daughter is being "racially profiled" at her high school for being white and having dreadlocks, which the teen reportedly wears for religious reasons, Fox 13 reports.
"My daughter is white and there happens to be other kids in the school who happen to be other race and ethnicity, and they have hair that can't be combed, and there's never been an issue regarding that before," Caycee Cunningham's mom, Tonya Judd, told the news station.
It all started when Lincoln Academy, which has a strict dress code policy, reprimanded the teen, calling Judd to tell her that the teen's dreadlocks were in violation of the code. The teen was asked to remove the locks.
However, Judd and Caycee both say that the teen has worn them for religious reasons since studying abroad in Guatemala. The teen reportedly "grew dreadlocks as part what she calls a spiritual journey in her Hindu beliefs," according to Fox 13.
"I guess it's just like representing, like me turning over a new leaf and like trying to find myself," the eighth-grader said of her hair. "I think they could be a little more accepting of it, and I think they should, because we do live in America and it does kind of boggles my mind a little bit."
Her mom says she believes that if other students of other ethnicities can wear locks, her daughter shouldn't have a problem.
"Not only have they been racially profiling my daughter because she happens to be a while girl with dreadlocks, but it's also taking away the rights of my daughter's religious beliefs and her spiritual journey," Judd said.
Lincoln Academy, located in Pleasant Grove, Utah, does not ban dreadlocks specifically but does insist that students have natural hair colors in styles and cuts that are not distracting.
"Our dress code says that our students' hair must have a neat, combed appearance, be appropriate for school and not be distracting in the classroom, which is pretty similar to what many schools in our area have," Principal Jake Hunt told Fox 13.
Caycee is not being punished for her hair, but Hunt wants to have a conversation with Judd to come to some sort of compromise.
"We would be happy to come to a common solution with parents if they have concerns," he said. "It's just a matter of having that conversation with us and trying to go through that process."
Both Caycee and her mom, however, say that they won't be removing the dreadlocks, insisting that they are not distracting. Caycee is prepared to transfer if necessary.
Read more at Fox 13.