Religious Discrimination Being Taught by America’s Schools

Discrimination Frowned Upon by American Culture

In today’s American culture, discrimination of any kind is supposedly frowned upon. Christian businesses are being sued for refusing service to gay people, other businesses are being sued for refusing to allow people to pray or otherwise practice their religion. Making fun of or bullying anyone because of their weight, religion, sexual preference, race, etc is not only considered immoral and wrong, but in many cases, it is illegal. So how is it that students as young as five years old are being discriminated against for their religious beliefs by American school systems?


Religious Discrimination Apparently Okay?

Religious discrimination is alive and thriving in our school systems, and it isn’t just for Christians anymore. Several years ago, Christian students began losing their rights to express their religious beliefs while in school. It became wrong to pray, read the Bible, or even mention God at school functions. Even Christmas became taboo in American society, with manger scenes and religious songs being named as offensive. But apparently, it isn’t just the Christian religion that is being pushed from our public schools. In fact, it seems that not only is religious discrimination being allowed in our school systems, but that even starting in kindergarten, kids are being taught by the actions of their school administrators that they can be punished for their beliefs.

Navajo Kindergartener Sent Home for Long Hair

According to Indian Country Today, a five year old Native American boy was ordered to go home from school on Monday and told he could not return unless he cut his hair. The boy, who is an enrolled citizen of the Navajo Nation was attending his very first day of school at, of all places, F.J. Elementary School in Seminole, Texas. Long hair is considered to be sacred by the student, Malachi Wilson’s tribe, and as a part of his religious beliefs, his hair had not been cut. The school’s mascot is a Native American from the Seminole tribe, complete with long hair, and yet young Malachi was told that his long hair was against the school’s policy.

Exactly what kind of message did this child receive from the actions that the school undertook? At the tender young age of five, this boy has already been exposed to discrimination. His mother explained, “It’s kind of heartbreaking because how do you explain to a 5-year-old that he’s being turned away because of what he believes in? Because of his religion—because of what’s part of him? Our hair is sacred to us.”

Of course, the news and social media took off with the story in a frenzy. The boy’s mother contacted the American Indian Movement, and fought for her boy’s right to attend school. When all was said and done, the school finally allowed the child to return to school after his other was made to bring proof of his heritage. That’s more than we demand of illegal aliens receiving food stamps these days! The school stated that they were simply enforcing their own policies that require boys’ hair to be no longer than their collars. No matter how it is sugar-coated, Malachi was discriminated against and he is not the only one.

Rastafarian Student on Unlimited Suspension for Long Hair

In Louisiana last month, an unnamed Rastafarian student has been placed on unlimited suspension because of his long hair. The boy, who is in high school, has gained the support of the American Civil Liberties Union after the South Plaquemines High School in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana sent him home. This school system also maintains in its policy that boys’ hair should be no longer than their collar.

Rastafarian religion states that a male should not cut their hair, but that it should be grown into dreadlocks. The boy’s mother explained his religious beliefs to the school, and even brought a letter from their church, but the school board informed her that this was not enough to exempt her son from the policy. According to the Huffington Post, as soon as the ACLU became involved, the school did relent somewhat, stating that the board was deciding how to proceed, and may even allow the boy to graduate early. Sounds like an extremely bright student was almost kicked out of school for his religious beliefs. With guns, drugs, teen pregnancy and even teachers being arrested for having relationships with students, don’t these school boards have better things to worry over than the length of a student’s hair?

Precedence Already Set in Such Cases

Perhaps one of the oddest things about these school systems even showing the least bit of religious intolerance and discrimination against students is that precedence in such cases has already been set. In 2008, an appeals court sided with a Native American student who had been sent home due to his long hair. This case, which was also in Texas, showed that the Needville School District’s policy for boys to have short hair cold not be used to discriminate against any child for their religious beliefs. So why are we still doing so? One could wonder if perhaps our children are being taught at a very young age that discrimination is a part of life, and that they should just accept it.

  • cronin

    The school rules are regarding hair length and the distraction it causes. They have nothing to do with religious discrimination…. I think the author is reaching here for a story where there is none.

    • Angela Kaye Mason

      These children are being sent home for refusing to disregard their religious beliefs. Not a far reach…

      • J. Alec West

        Our country consistently struggles with religious equality. And so far, our record on that score has been biased “toward” Christianity. For example, during Prohibition, Catholic priests were allowed to continue using wine (a sacrament) during mass. Fast-forward to the future and you won’t find that same accommodation for Rastafarians – to whom ganga (aka marijuana) is considered a sacrament.

        Anyhow, nowadays, the pendulum is swinging in the other direction. It isn’t enough for some Christians that Christmas is the ONLY recognized religious Federal holiday. And it isn’t enough that the Pledge of Allegiance includes “under God” in it (something that didn’t start until the 1950s during McCarthyism). And it isn’t enough that “In God We Trust” appears on currency. Some (but certainly not all) Christians want Christianity to be “more equal” than other religions. So, it’s no wonder these particular Christians feel “attacked” when, in truth, they’re only being “equalized.”

    • J. Alec West

      Just an aside on hair-length. It’s the only “legal” sexual discrimination left in this country. I’ve worn my hair long ever since I left the Navy (age 23) and still wear it long (age 64). During my life, I’ve been turned down for jobs specifically because of my hair-length. And in one case (my first job after leaving the Navy), I was encouraged to “move on” by the boss when my hair got too long for his personal tastes. This was all because of the equipment between my legs – since women for the same employers had no similar stigma if they grew their hair long.

      When it comes to religion, this is my stance. Religion should be practiced in the home or in a place of worship. Period. In fact, I’d actually like to see a law prohibiting door-to-door evangelism.

    • Nathaniel Ash.

      Please explain to me how long hair is a distraction? And please be specific. If long hair is a distraction and you proved your point without using arguments of outrage, ad hoc, or ad hominem fallacies, then why are girls allowed to have long hair? If distraction is the issue, why are not all children shaved bald? Why are preteen children allowed to wear age inappropriate clothes? Why are cell phones and personal computers allowed in the classroom? Cronin, what is so special about long hair on boys? It is a fact that brainwashing starts early in public schools. You yourself provide the perfect example. In fact I do not believe you know how to think, you are simply programmed to generic answer B. Moreover, Christianity has suffered nothing less than an all out assault by the current regime. I say regime because the democratic process has failed, the people are no longer heard, and the constitution trampled during Obama’s reign. From segregation of us military, to men and women of cloth being sued for preaching the gospel and relating it the the lives of their Parrish and fellowship ( doing their job ). Christianity has been under attack. These things we read about in COMMUNIST RUSSIA! Of course you likely are to young to remember the Berlin wall, or iron curtain. And I doubt they teach history in schools, more likely propaganda. Before you go researching my page, understand something, if Christianity falls, so will you. Being the largest organized religion in the United States, if they fall, you lose your rights to believe in something or not. I chose to stand with Christians for that exact reason. When I was young, about 15 or 16 I became a pagan. I studied witchcraft, and later Asatru. I was a pagan for more than 23 years. One night, not terribly long ago, someone asked me what my views on spirituality were. I was perhaps a bit deep in my cups, but the Bible came out. The Word of God. I know exactly when my turning point was, can you say the same?

      • J. Alec West

        I had a similar (yet different) experience. I was baptized in a Presbyterian church. My mother, my father, and later my stepdad were all Presbyterians. My stepdad was more exacting than my mom/dad because he was a 1st generation American – with his parents being immigrants from Scotland (and staunch Presbyterians). One day, he sat me down and said, “Son, there are only two kinds of people in this world religiously speaking. You’ve either got your Presbyterians or you’ve got your people going to Hell.” And, he meant it.

        However, in the small Eastern Oregon town where I grew up, there was no Presbyterian church – the nearest one over 70 miles away. My mom insisted that I have some sort of Christian upbringing – and my stepdad acquiesced, allowing me to attend a local Methodist church. I remained in the church through high-school … even becoming a Fellowship Leader in MYF (Methodist Youth Fellowship). With others under my wing, we went door to door witnessing our faith and handing out free copies of “Good News For Modern Man” – a paperback rendition of the New Testament where the verses were rewritten on modern-day idiom making it easier for people to understand them.

        Then, I went to college and began to listen to the radio lectures of the late Alan Watts. Watts was an Anglican priest for several years – until he left the church, saying, “I woke up from the dream.” He became a student of comparative religion and eventually chose Zen Buddhism to be his own personal religion. He didn’t convince me to become a Buddhist (grin). But he did convince me that people of all religions were “conditioned” to be what they are. As he put it, Jesus once said “Suffer thy children to come unto me.” This was updated by a Jesuit monk in the middle ages to, “Give me a boy by the time he is 7 and I’ll give you a Christian forever.” In short, children tend to experience the religion of their parents (or the closest religion to them) and end up being conditioned to believe that way – long before they reach the age of adulthood and acquire the ability to develop independent rational thought. In street terms, brainwashing.

        People may stray from the conditioning. You became a Pagan. I became a member of Anton LaVey’s Church of Satan. But when things don’t work out, people have a tendency to return to the comfortable umbrella their prior conditioning provided. You became a Christian (again, maybe). But I retreated to the lectures of Alan Watts. And after several years, I settled on Deism. I believe in a “god” but believe that all paths to God have value (even Islam).

        Any so-called “attacks” on Christianity are doomed to failure eventually. While it’s not the “official” religion of the USA, it is the predominant one – so predominant that it’s the only religion to which an official Federal holiday is provided (Christmas). So much for separation between church & state so eloquently espoused by Thomas Jefferson in his letter to a Baptist congregation … and possibly supported by a number of founding fathers (like Thomas Paine & Benjamin Franklin, both Deists).

        But, I don’t think attacks on Christianity are meant to snuff it out. I think such attacks are merely reminders to Christianity that they’re not the ONLY religion on the block. And in a truly free society where independent thought is valued, they shouldn’t be.

        • Nathaniel Ash.

          I disagree with you only on a couple of points.
          Most people today don’t give much thought religion. And all religions do have value. My main concern is that if the government can destroy or minimize a large politically active religion, such as Christianity; then all other religions and their rights become irrelevant. Even if I were still a pagan, and you still followed Anton levey, I would think that you would want to keep your freedoms. I’m not asking for prayer in school, or forcing anyone to believe anything, but we are not talking about a child evangelizing, just that his ( his parents ) beliefs were violated. It would be the same argument if a Catholic child was suspended for wearing a crucifix. And beyond that, the issue of religious discrimination was never addressed nor was theclaim of long hair being a distraction.

          • J. Alec West

            I’m not convinced government is trying to “minimize” Christianity, only “equalize” it.