Fighting for a Child’s Right to Keep His Long Hair

Remembering our time at school could evoke happy or sad memories. It’s a tumultuous time filled with highs and lows, but what we can all relate to is school rules. Some rules make sense, like not wearing jewelry during sports. But sending someone home because of too much makeup or a certain soda drink seems like a waste of resources and valuable lesson time for the young ones involved.

Outdated, punishing rules

Often, the rigidity by which schools operate when it comes to a child’s appearance goes against that time in their lives when they want to be different and express themselves. Unfortunately, for one mother and her son, these rules have gone, arguably, too far and could mean an 8-year-old boy misses out on a good education.

Farouk James, from London, England, is blessed with a stunning head of hair that has caught the attention of model scouts. He now works as a child model, having done shoots in New York and Italy. However, his appearance has given him nothing but issues at school, and he has been rejected from a number of schools because of the length of his hair.

James has an older brother, and his mother, Bonnie Miller, said that when he was at school, she was told his hair was too short. Bonnie said Farouk’s father is from Ghana, and for cultural reasons, they didn’t cut his hair until he was 3 years old. “At that point, he was attached — and so was I, to be honest — with his beautiful hair,” Bonnie told CBS News. “We just kept the hair.”

The family lives in the U.K., where most schools have a policy that allows girls to have long hair, but boys are not allowed. Bonnie argues that forcing children to cut their hair is against their human rights. She is determined to persuade governments to put legislation in place to protect children from these outdated and punishing rules. Bonnie wrote on Instagram, “Farouk hasn’t done anything wrong, and YOU REJECT HIM! He will say goodbye to his friends as they all get accepted into the schools he so desperately wants to attend.”

This situation has prompted Bonnie to start a petition to ban hair discrimination in the U.K. She is building a real team to fight this cause and calling it the Mane Generation. The goal is to change these rules globally, not just domestically in the U.K.

An Instagram account featuring Farouk and his life as a fun-loving boy and child model is managed by his mom and has more than a quarter of a million followers. However, despite all the love and support he receives online, they still receive negative comments. After an appearance on the popular U.K. TV morning show ‘This Morning’ to discuss the family’s struggle to find a school that will accept Farouk and his hair, Bonnie said she received many negative comments. “This week is mental health week, so I’m surprised to be receiving lots of negative comments about Farouk’s hair,” Bonnie wrote in May last year. “Farouk’s hair is a God-given part of him, and he will not be cutting it to appease anyone, just as he does not keep it long at my request either.”

The Mane Generation

Bonnie argues that the appearance rules for girls and boys at schools are archaic and, in some cases, racist, with many schools banning dreadlocks and braids. She will never stop fighting for acceptance of Farouk and his hair and all the other children who are discriminated against for wanting to express their cultural heritage and who they are.

Farouk’s hair is part of who he is, and rejecting a child on the basis of their hair by those who are trusted to teach our children is unacceptable in 2022. These rules should be banned.