In the past few months, schools have banned everything from yoga pants and boots to birthday candles and peanut butter sandwiches. But one Hurricane middle school is cracking down on hair color—even if the color in question isn’t a garish blue or green but just a dark shade of red.
After being kicked out of class last week for dyeing her brown hair auburn, an honors student at a Utah middle school has been allowed to return to school—but only after she toned down her hair color.
Though Rylee MacKay, 15, had been dyeing her hair the same shade every six weeks since September, it wasn’t until earlier this month that the school took issue with the color. On Feb. 4, Hurricane Middle School vice principal Jan Goodwin spotted Rylee in the halls and ordered her into the office. She had just had her hair touched up two days earlier.
The Washington County School District dress code states that “Hair, including beards, mustaches and sideburns, should be groomed so that it is neat and clean. Hair color must be a naturally occurring color; i.e. red, brown, black, blonde.” And while Rylee’s stylist had assured her that her new color complied with the dress code, Goodwin felt that Rylee’s auburn-hued hair didn’t look natural enough.
But she didn’t want to dye her hair back to brown—and her mother refused to make her.
“I absolutely am not going to dye it brown. That is not an option,” Amy MacKay said.
Rylee had a hard time with the family’s move to Hurricane two and a half years ago, MacKay said, and when she was finally allowed to dye her hair last year she felt better about herself. “My daughter feels beautiful with the red hair. Changing her hair really changed her; she really blossomed,” she explained. “And now I have to say, ‘No, sorry, you have to dye it brown?’ I’m not going to change it back.”
But school officials insist that the rules are not arbitrary.
“We deal with dress code issues nearly every day, specifically hair issues maybe once per week,” Hurricane Middle School Principal Dr. Roy Hoyt, explained to Yahoo! Shine in an interview on Tuesday.
“Most of the time it is a situation where students color their own hair and it doesn’t come out as they had intended.”
After four days of washing her hair at home, Rylee’s hair had faded enough to be acceptable to school administrators, and she was allowed back in class.
Parents and former students took to Facebook to weigh in on the controversy.
“My daughter went through the same thing there last year, but they told her she could stay because there were only three days left of school,” Elizabeth Ebert said in response to a local newspaper’s poll about MacKay’s hair color on Facebook. “However, they also told me she would have to change it back in order to start school this year.”