- Ingvard Ashby
A recent revision to the Byng Public School District dress code was featured on Vice this month.
“Since their sophomore year, Is’Abella Miller and Delanie Seals have been at odds with the administration at Byng High School in Ada, Oklahoma, over what they perceive to be a violation of their rights: a school rule that prohibited students from wearing African head wraps along with other forms of non-religious headwear,” reported Leila Ettachfini for Vice’s Identity section. “Byng High School is majority white and both Seals and Miller said that forbidding African head wraps signifies a bias among administrators.”
School administrators first began clashing with Seals and Miller over their head wraps in 2018. In their sophomore, junior and now senior years, Seals and Miller said two different principals took multiple, sometimes contradictory, stances on whether the head wraps were allowed. At one point, the principal reportedly (and puzzlingly) told them “they could wear their head wraps, but only if they show some of their hair,” only to later tell them he changed his mind and they violated the dress code’s “no headwear” policy. They said their request to meet with Byng’s superintendent went unanswered.
“The headwear rule is culturally and ethnically insensitive and we decided we had to do something about it, even if that meant going to in-school detention,” Miller told Vice.
And so they did. They also started a social media campaign with the hashtags #headwrapsmatter and #myculturemysay. Following more meetings with the principal, superintendent and school board, the dress code was finally revised to allow “caps, hats, or any head coverings that are not distracting to the learning environment.”
Miller told Vice she’s happy about the change in policy but worried the word “distracting” could be used as an excuse for further hassles from any “teacher that’s lowkey racist.” Sounds like at least two Byng students — head wraps, in-school detention, national media attention and all — have definitely learned something.