A Portland high school has raised eyebrows with its brow grooming policy: Shave ’em or go home.
Some students at Centennial High School have shaved vertical lines into their eyebrows in a trend recently made popular by hip-hop star Soulja Boy. School officials said the mark looks like a gang symbol.
Centennial administrators told students with the lines that they can’t return to school until they shave off their eyebrows. Assistant Principal Mark Porterfield said the students were not suspended, but they were not allowed in school until they cooperated.
That one is at least defensible. Maybe the lines could be a gang symbol. And maybe allowing them could lead to some kind of actual disturbance. Maybe. I don’t think the maybes justify the absolute prohibition, but hey, I can at least understand the other side.
This one, though, is patently absurd:
In September of 2007, the principal at Hollis F. Price Middle College High told teachers she wanted the names of all student couples, “hetero and homo,” because she wanted to monitor them personally to prevent students from engaging in public displays of affction.
The two students now represented by the ACLU, Andrew and Nicholas (who have asked that their last names not be revealed), were two A students who had been seeing each other for a short time and were attempting to keep their relationship quiet and private.
The principal heard about them through another student, then wrote their names on a list she posted next to her desk, in full view of anyone who entered her office.
One of the boys’ mothers personally witnessed the list when she met with the principal a few days later. . .
Although the boys had never been observed by any school staff engaging in any sort of display of affection, the principal called Nicholas’s mother Nichole.
According to Nichole, the principal said things like “Did you know your son is gay?” repeatedly and went on to say that she didn’t like gay people and wouldn’t tolerate homosexuality at her school.
Both students say they’ve had to deal with verbal harassment from both teachers and students since word got out around the school about their principal’s actions.
According to Nicholas, he also suffered another consequence of the principal’s discrimination. He had submitted extensive paperwork and several recommendations from teachers for a school trip to New Orleans to assist in rebuilding efforts.
Having a long history of community service, he was considered a shoo-in to be selected to go before the incident, but then a teacher told Nicholas some faculty were afraid he might “embarrass the school” or engage in “inappropriate behavior.”
A few days later, another student who hadn’t even applied to go on the trip was selected in his place.
“We never bothered anyone or did a single thing at school that broke any of the rules,” said Nicholas, a junior and honor student. “Every day I feel like they’re still punishing me, and I’m worried that this is going to hurt my chances to get into a good college.”
Let’s take this one piece at a time.
One, how ridiculous is it to ask for a list of all student couples? Unless you want them im’d in real time, any list would be totally out of date by the time she got it.
Two, Chris Hansen might want to give this lady a call, given that she wanted the names of the couples so she could personally monitor them. Catching two kids in the middle of a PDA is one thing, sneaking around hoping to find them is just creepy.
Three, I hate to use such crude metaphors given the subject of the post, but the teachers who gave her the list need to grow some cajones. If my principal asked me to do something like this, I would laugh at her.
Four, note that these two kids did nothing wrong. As ass-headed as was the principal’s stalking idea, she did not even catch them breaking any rules. They are excellent students, yet they now face mockery from peers and other teachers, as well as doubts about their futures. All that because of their status as homosexuals. Seems a bit disproportional to me.
Five, even if you think being gay is wrong, you have to admit this is an unbelievably clumsy and ignorant way to deal with what you think is a problem. Wouldn’t the better approach have been a private conference, rather than exposing these kids to humiliation and harm? What do you suppose they now think about people who disapprove of homosexuality? My guess is that they think those folks are ignorant, nasty, mean-spirited fools. Sure, most aren’t. But this principal certainly was.