Fifteen-year-old Rylee MacKay (above) was recently suspended from her Utah middle school, but it wasn’t because of bad behavior or anything you’d typically think a student would be suspended for. Rylee was suspended because she dyed her hair what school officials considered to be an “unnatural” and “distracting” shade of red.
After dying her hair, Rylee went to school not expecting any reaction at all, but what she got was a room to herself, away from her peers. And when her mother objected to the cruel punishment, Rylee was suspended and forbidden to come back to school until she dyed her hair back to a normal shade.
According to Rylee’s mother, the Washington County school district has the right to decide whether or not a student’s hair is considered “distracting,” but the policy isn’t very clear. “That rule is so vague,” Amy claims, according to KSL.com. “It’s totally his (Principal Roy Hoyt’s) opinion whether it’s too bright or not.”
The school dress code requires that student’s hair and facial hair is to be “groomed” at all times and bans “extreme hairstyles.” The code also requires hair color to be within the spectrum of color that hair grows naturally.
Rylee’s mother also said that the color her daughter dyed her hair on February 2 was the same color she’d been using since September, but the Vice Principal Jan Goodwin claims there were also shades of pink and purple which were visible in the sunlight.
Goodwin called Rylee’s parents the day that her hair became an issue and requested that they dye it at home to get it back to another shade, but Rylee’s mother declined, saying she feared it would turn her hair orange. “He suggested I go to Walmart and get a box,” Amy said. “I told him I had had it professionally done and that I didn’t want it to turn orange. I asked him to give me until Monday so I could get it professionally done over the weekend.”
Goodwin in turn said that if that were going to be the case, Rylee would have to stay confined at the school and not be visible to any other students, but Amy wasn’t going to stand for her child being embarrassed by the issue any longer. For now, Rylee is suspended, but tomorrow she will go back to school where she will hopefully get the color approval from her principal and be allowed to return to class. Either way, her hair is going to be some sort of shade of red.
“I absolutely am not going to dye it brown. That is not an option,” Amy explains. “My daughter feels beautiful with the red hair. Changing her hair really changed her; she really blossomed. When she got red hair, she got compliments, and even her teachers told her, ‘Wow, your hair is beautiful,’ and it really helped her,” MacKay said. “She’s said numerous times, ‘I’ll always be a redhead. I’m never going brown again. I’ll be a redhead until the day I die.’ And now I have to say, ‘No, sorry, you have to dye it brown?’ I’m not going to change it back.”
Amy hopes that the dress code issue will soon be resolved and adds that there are “way more pressing issues” for the school to enforce other than the color of students’ hair.