The Lorain Horizon Science Academy in Ohio is facing heat from the natural hair community after a copy of a letter to parents that included a ban on afro puffs and ‘small twisted braids’ was posted online.

The letter details changes to the dress code for the upcoming school year and includes the line:

Afro-puffs and small twisted braids, with our without rubberbands, are NOT permitted.

It’s unclear what the administration means by small twisted braids, but if they are referring to box braids they are banning a protective style that black girls have worn for generations. Afro-puffs are essentially the black version of the ponytail (when pulled back our hair puffs out instead of laying down), and yet the rules do not have a ban on ponytails for students of other ethnicities.

It’s unspecified whether this ban applies to both male and female students, or male students alone.

The dress code restrictions highlight an age-old struggle that naturals face from both within and outside of the black community. Our hair is viewed as radical, funky or unruly in its natural state, and restrictions are sometimes placed on us in academic and professional settings that do not extend to our non-black counterparts.

So far the school hasn’t issued a response or explanation of this dress code item.

What do you think ladies? Is this a fair restriction to include in the dress code? Why or why not?

A copy of the letter is below.

***UPDATE: Just received word that the school has lifted the ban. Here is the letter they issued today:

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Black Girl With Long Hair

Leila Noelliste, founder of Black Girl with Long Hair (April 2008). Social media, pop culture and black beauty enthusiast. bell hooks' hair twin...

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508 Comments on "Ohio School Bans Afro Puffs and Braids"

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Che Che
I went through a similar situation with my now 18 year old son first entered kindergarten. I was told no braids or ponytails..he would need to have his hair shaved off. I fought like crazy. My son was able to keep his hair with stipulations. Only straight to the back and his hair must stay neat. I fought again. Those rules are not in existence at that school anymore. I also went through the same thing when he entered highschool but this time it was with the basketball coach. My son decided not to play that year but eventually that… Read more »

If I were a parent at this school, I’d go to the school and ask them to show me what “natural and well groomed” style they’d like for my Black daughter to have. Presumably they’d show me a straight haired child at which point I’d let them know that there is nothing natural about that. Are they insisting harmful heat or chemicals? Seriously. This shows a lack of diversity in their management staff. No way a Black woman saw that and approved.

wanda renee

So, what’s the game plan?
what are we doing writing letters,calling the school, signing petitions, sending emails??

They are suppressing all kids and that is the problem. Conforming to a dress code is one thing, but don’t tell me how my child’s hair should look. If it is neat, clean, and unoffensive don’t call me with no mess! This isn’t the 1940’s anymore. Teaching your child good grooming is one thing, but to teach my child what hair styles are unacceptable by a old white man who probably won’t be their boss anyway….no Companies who want to stay current are not in the business of caring about someone’s hairstyle. Now, yes perhaps certain hair styles and color… Read more »

An “afro puff” is what naturally occurs when textured hair is pulled into a ponytail and braids and twists are style options when doers of textured hair refuse to use harmful chemicals or heat on hair. There is NOTHING wrong wuth that so this policy unfairly targets people with textured hair. This ridiculously wrong policy should be fought against by ALL ethnicities because if they take away the liberties of one, they will take aeay the liberties of ALL!!! First us then you THEN who will be left to speak up for the disenfranchised?


This is racist! If I had a child that went to that school she would wear her afro puffs anyway! Why? Because that’s how our hair grows. Just wait until I have children, this type of bs won’t fly.


BLACK colleges are banning natural hairstyles for students. And we’re still too brainwashed to even notice that what they consider “not professional”, and “unkempt” ONLY APPLIES to natural black hair. As long as you relax and “whiten up” your image, you’re looking clean and/or professional. This makes me angry.

This is wrong on so many levels. Black girls are now more than ever wearing their hair in its natural state. We use box braids two strand twist as protective styles. These styles can be worn neatly and be well kept. As for the rude xomment about the afro puff and blocking the view of another child. That is a bogus excuse to discriminate. The afro puff is a style that worn on the top of the head. If natural hair ia acceptable in the boardroom and the courtroom surely rhe school room can accept it. That is clearly a… Read more »
Maria Harden
Connie, I was thinking about responding to your comment but I changed my mind. I will ignore your ignorance. You are either clueless, racist or clueless AND racist. This infuriates and saddens me. Punishing innocent children. C’mon now. These are the “issues” that they really decided to tackle? The nerve. The audacity. How dare they. I have two younger daughters and their hair stays in braids or afro puffs 99.9% of the time. AND if my children were enrolled at this school and I still chose to keep them there after receiving this letter, their hair would continue to be… Read more »

Lol. This looks like a response to me.

All I can say is WOW! I live in Ohio and I am ashamed. I am pissed about this because I wear two stranded twists all the time as a protect hairstyle for my natural hair as well as my daughters. I’m sorry that our hair doesn’t fit into “their American dream” and world, but we are all different and it’s obvious that this school does not appreciate or want to teach their students how to appreciate the difference in all of us. They are literally forcing one culture to conform to with society deems as their form of beauty… Read more »

The ENTIRE dress code is ridiculous. I understand the school wants to maintain a certain image, but that shouldn’t be by changing the way students express themselves….afro puffs, mohawks, looped earrings, etc..whatever the case may be…and your hair can’t touch your collar??? what is this a military school?

Someone at this school is bugging and whoever agreed with that bugaboo needs some serious therapy.


Some caucasions have curly hair as well. When put into a ponytail it resembles an “afro puff”. I wonder if this means EVERYONE, regardless of color/race, is banned from the style.

Very concerned

I thought schools are suppose to set the example and stop BULLYING. But here they are Bullying ethnic people because of their hair texture!!

Connie, why don’t you learn to think before you speak! You obviously must be a white woman who has NO experience with African American hair. The picture of the little girl is clearly anecdotal for purposes of the article! OUR hair is beautifully thick and long and cottony in texture! Wearing 2 ponytails is not an option for a lot of us. This is just another attempt at trying to get blacks to conform to European standards of beauty. Our “twisted braided hairstyles are not a “fad” and have been a cultural norm for centuries in this country.
Very concerned
It’s sounds to me as if the ban is intentionally set to hinder a ethnicity from attending this school or too restrict the amount of ethnic children who attend. These hairstyles are not new or faddish I’m 40+ yrs old and wore these hairstyles when I was in grade school. The natural hair textures of some ethnicities are not silky and straight and therefore when you put it in a ponytail it puffs out. In order to tame the hair it must be put in braids sometimes. I find this to be quite disturbing if this is enforced for the… Read more »

idk about that. there are hbcus that ban certain hairstyles as well …


FAMU can’t be one of em! I’ve seen every hair style imaginable worn during my time there!

Deborah Anderson

Connie, STFU. You are an idiot!! Yeah, I said it….


Connie…are you serious? This is racism at it’s finest. I am sure the reason is not that the children can’t see behind them and if that is what you think, you either have your head in the sand or under a hood.

It looks to me like a two-pronged measure to homogenize the school’s student (and parent) population. 1. Students need to all look the same and not spook each other OR the teachers. 2. If you don’t like it, LEAVE. Meaning, black kids, get out. Normally I’d move on and leave a place like that — BUT THIS IS A SCHOOL. It’s literally there to help mold your child into a decent adult. So, this policy HAS to be fought, and the administration and PTA, and PTO, and any other parents or community members, need to be re-educated as to what… Read more »
All I can do is shake my head at this! I am from Ohio and this is a bit too much. “Afro puffs and small twisted braids!” You have got to be kidding mean. This is discrimination on a whole new level! However, if this is a new rule that is applied to MALE students with long hair, it should be applied across the board. I attended a private school in Columbus and the male students were not permitted to have hair past the collar of their shirt and it was actually in the handbook as part of the dress… Read more »

The letter does address mo-hawks and colored hair. They, too,are not permitted. But what puzzles me is, hair beads are permitted, but if small twisted braids are not, how does that work???


It’s pretty damn obvious that the person/people who came up with this code are NOT Black and have no idea how to care for afro textured hair. This policy is racist to the core.


thats no true. this person could just as easily be black. all black folks dont think the same… j/s

Many schools today Do have a policy about hair. NO more than 2 pony tails, NO faddish hair styles….PERIOD ! GET OVER IT PEOPLE !! The problem with the school system today is for so long they feared laying down the law…now when they do people get in a huff. If this little girls hair looked like this going to school ..HOW IS THE WORLD IS THE CHILD BEHIND HER TO SEE THE BOARD ? Parents use some common sense when dressing, hairs styles , nail grooming, etc…as to where the child will be during the time you groom them… Read more »
A Teacher

Were you really born that stupid, or is this the result of some sort of drug or alcohol abuse?


There is NOTHING FADDISH about African hair in it’s NATURAL state. It’s what we are born with. Nothing about that little girl’s hair is unkept or unclean. It does not reflect on a parent. And I highly doubt her “fro” blocks the view of another child. How fair is it that someone makes a policy against how you look NATURALLY? It unfairly targets a certain group of students.


If the child’s hair grows curly and when she puts it in a pony tail, it looks like an afro puff, what’s the problem? She can’t even put it in braids to make the hair look well groomed because braids are not allowed.

this is how her hair grows, why should she change it??

@Connie: I am assuming that you do not have “afro” hair texture. No more than 2 pony tails is strict but when can be followed. As you see in the picture included with the article, the little girl pictured has 2 pony tails. Her hair texture brings about the label “afro puffs”. Even if she had only 1 pony tail she would have an “afro puff”. If you hair is straight, wavy or curly you can wear a pony tail but if you hair is afro you can’t? From what was sent out, it seems that if all the children… Read more »
Natural Mother
As a black woman that wants to see the members of her culture succeed, I agree that there should be rules of engagement to set boundaries and convey expectation. However, as a black mother, I don’t see how my little girls afro puff is a hindrance in the education arena. I understand no tank tops, no pink hair, no open toed sandals; those all have a purpose. What is the purpose of forcing a parent to risk damaging their child’s hair with heat and products so that it will lie flat which is the only option when you remove the… Read more »
kay Marie

You sound really ignorant. A girl wearing her het in her natural state in the form of afro puffs or twists or braids have nothing to do with receiving an education. Heck if her hair is being a distraction to the kid behind het let her sit in the back or something but there’s PLENTY of kids who are a distraction to other kids

Oh, another thing to consider… How are children supposed to concentrate and see the board when girls with long straighter hair textures are whipping it in their face while seated in the desk in front of them…. or pulling their fingers from root to tip to get the kinks out….or letting it drag and drape over their shoulders onto the desk of the student behind them when taking a test…. I think the school should also write a rule about things that are inherent to those with non-afro hair. Afro hair texture NOT a fad. It is how the hair… Read more »

That has to be the most stupid and ignorant statement i’ve ever saw posted. It is a declaration of war against common sense, as well as insensitive and racist to the core.

Blatino guy

Screw that. This is ignorant and racist.

Connie,to answer your question,the child will see the board the same way they do when the kid sitting in front of them is taller than them.. look around them. The problem here Connie is that if my daughter cannot wear her hair in a natural state such as a pulled back pony puff, or in braids what are her options? a perm? why, so it will lay down? No Connie, rules like this tell african american kids (or kids w/ afro textured hair) that their hair inherently breaks the rules and is a negative aspect for other people to deal… Read more »
amanda amparan
@ Connie. I cannot believe the ignorance that came out of your mouth. But since it did I am about 99% sure that you grew up in a racist household. I do not know what state you live in either but I think you should further your research as to how many schools have a policy when it comes to girls and their ponytails! It is not many schools at all as you stated above. As a matter of fact I dont even see one school. And if your child was sitting behind my daughter and couldnt see the board… Read more »
Are you serious? Why as a parent should I force my 4 year olds hair to do anything other then what it was meant to do. Should I put chemicals in her hair, just so it conforms to the schools or how what some societies view as normal? No! I refuse. My daughters hair when put in to pony tails looks like two spiral curled puffs. The white girls in her class wear their hair in the same style and it is two straight ponytails. Both are wearing their hair in its natural state. Why should my daughter change her… Read more »
OMG! Please tell me that you are kidding right?! You are writing this to get attention right?! You were deprived of attention from your parents (who were all too perfect and taught you everything about life) and this is your way of getting it right?! Okay, I understand totally…attention seeking behavior…lol..enough said. Ha. 🙂 It would have been better for them to work with ethnic parents on the hairstyles and not totally ban it by saying, all Afro puffs should be a certain size or circumference to allow students who sit behind them to see the board. Not really for… Read more »

If someone said “no straight hair allowed. Everybody must wear their hair curly” there would be an uproar. So why people with curly/afro hair cannot wear their hair in it’s natural state or at least wear braids?? Braids are the way many African American little girls wear their natural hair.


I think their being too extreme. No puffs or braids? Puffs I might be able to understand but braids? Really? Instead of banning it all, they should tell them that their hair has to be styled to where it’s not distracting or getting in the way of them doing their work. It is a science school so of course they’d be doing experiments
and the hair should be pulled back. Just make that the
rule. Not only is it fair, but it applies to students of all ethnicities.

Oleeka Fortson

I live in Ohio too and this is pathetic and just plain wrong!! Slowly but surely more and more of our rights are being taken from us! What is next? Are you going to tell us how to talk and walk now? This is discrimination at its worst! I would take my children out of that school so fast!! Y’all should get together and protest this damn school! They have last their damn minds!! This makes me so mad!!!OH yeah, what CeCe said sue their asses!!

if that’s the case then they should also ban children from letting their hair out so that it can whip freely through the wind. If we want to be politically correct about hair; that is actually dangerous. Materials can pull and snag on ones flowing hair, it can get it caught on rides at playgrounds, the child might get distracted from their education by playing with their hair, e.c.t. A black or mixed child, I mean, a child with kinky and/or curly hair does not have to worry too much about these things since their parents tend to have their… Read more »
The hair must be clean and natural, but no Afro puffs or braids? That’s “IMPOSSIBLE” for most black children! The only way my children or I have ever been able to wear our hair not puffed or braided is to straighten it through unnatural means! I’ve never seen any dress codes requiring kids to put heat or chemicals in their hair and on their tender scalps to make it curly! If they can’t get over the freakin natural hair difference, then they haven’t gotten over the freakin natural skin difference! And, they call themselves an institute of education? Humph! I… Read more »

LAWSUIT waiting to happen.


Everyone is saying the parents should stand up but we need to stand up too! Blow up their facebook and twitter accounts! Call them and explain that this is not acceptable! We can all make the difference. The fb and twitter accounts are under the school’s management company, Concept Schools: Charter School Management Company.

J. Nicole

I’m not even sure where to begin. I guess I need to get more details on this, but even so I can’t understand, nor do I want to understand how this can be rationalized. So are they forcing young Black girls to wear their hair straight!? Is it a way of getting Black kids out of the school!? What really kills me is how blatent society is in making rules to say “We don’t like this whole Black thing you have going on. Can you take it somewhere else?”.

Cece Danielle

If I were a parent whose child went to this school, I’d sue them. This is discrimination and extremely racist. How can you ban ponytails for black girls but not other ethnicities just because our hair is a different texture? Oh noooooo they would be hearing from me because this is horrible.


I guess it’s a stupid rule but I don’t give a fuck.They just want black girls care about themselves and not look like homosexuals. Basically the rule is fine. It’s a strict school. I agree with the rule. So black girls that respond to this message. I don’t give a fuck


Chris, go fuck yourself!! Only a dumb piece of shit would think that black girls with afro puffs and braids look like homosexuals. And I’m guessing you’re a racist, redneck, nasty ass cousin-fucking hick. Get the fuck outta here.

BGLH, forgive me for the cussing BUT I HAD TO!! That ignorant shit just pissed me off!

An elementary school aged girl has to where her hair the way her parent/ guardian fixes it. White people or any other race that know nothing about black hair and its many textures, should not make stupid rules about it, nor should they make idiotic comments about things they don’t understand. Any little black girl that has her hair fixed in boxed braids or any type of braids, is so that the child’s hair will be controlled and not all over the place. It in no way makes an elementary school child look like a homosexual. The fact that a… Read more »
Ugonna Wosu

this comment is so dumb, I don’t believe you really mean a word of it. You’re just a troll


First of all Chris, there is nothing wrong with being gay. If someone is gay, that’s ok.

Second, since you like to judge people based on their looks, I’m going to judge you based on your words. You sound like a black man who tells black woman that to be beautiful they need 30in Remy weave with a Nicki Minaj injected booty. Live in your mom’s basement, drive a beat up ’85 Chevy with new rims that you couldn’t afford and you work a McDonald’s. Enjoy your pathetic life.

Sabrina Antoinnette

This is sooo funny. Many African American women with their natural hair afros or afro puffs are very well paid models, musicians and actresses. Would you call Beyonce homosexual? Wait: Are you homosexual?? Otherwise, I would have guessed you would have noticed that. NO harm/no foul in your words – only someone that doesn’t have it together would take offense to what you have said, BUT Your negativity and stone throwing has no place here, Chris.

Tbis is pathetic. Why don’t they just ban being black? If black girls can’t wear braids and puffs, what do these idiots WANT them to do with their hair? Cut it off? Burn it straight? I’m pretty sure no other students are required to mutilate themselves before they are deemed fit for an education. That’s totally bizarre. And disturbingly cruel. I totally agree that an afro puff is identical to a ponytail – it’s the hair that’s different, not the style. Though, I do caution against saying it’s a “black version.” It’s not a different version, it’s the same exact… Read more »

I’d be the first to pull my child out of that school! I cannot stand how increasingly racist and prejudice this country continues to get. As always, it’s not as if we asked to be here.

I know, we know, and they should know that it’s wrong, but reading the letter, I can see where they might have been going. They wanted to make all the little kids the same, stifle individuality and hopefully prevent bullying or a rebellious uprising. No bandanas for gangs, no mohawks for punks, no low cut shirts for underage pregnancy, and no afros for swagger/black mentality. It’s still wrong. They should have done more research into black hair care. The community over there needs to speak up, or they will also be to blame for sitting back and taking it. If… Read more »

Astonishingly stupid and discriminatory policy. Can’t make this stuff up.

Sabrina Antoinnette
Shame on them!! This shouldn’t go very far if the adults/parents take a stand and bring light to the topic. I’ll be very interested in their follow-up activities. Growing up that’s all my mother would do to get through a week of styling with my sister and I. She would braid and twist our hair. They must not understand the level of care and maintenance that is required for textured hair. It’s so funny how some people just don’t think when making those types of requests. My go-to rebuttal for those that have requested that I change my hair: I… Read more »
I agree Sabrina- if they want to be disrespectful and ask you to change your hair, I see no problem with you asking them to change their face This is INSANE… But luckily I don’t see how this will actually be put into effect if the parents stand up as they should. If they are having a problem with children looking “unkempt” then they should simply request that parents make sure “the appearance is neat and tidy”. There is nothing inherently messy about braids and puffs. and it must be said… my children are some if the only Black children… Read more »
Jennifer Lumpkin
I’m from Ohio and unfortunately many people, including many black people — have seen natural hair as “undone” or “unkempt”. People are slowly jumping on the natural bandwagon, but it’s more of a trendy look rather than embracing our true textures. Everyone wants the “curly” look, rather than their real natural texture, hence the disdain for children coming to school with nappy (not natural) hair. Ohio is and has always been a very racially divided state — Cleveland specifically has many strides to make before young black children are looked at as beautiful rather than cute little poor kids who… Read more »

I live in Ohio also. In fact this is in Dayton, OH. That’s my area. This is crazy

Whenever I read stuff like this, I get a feeling it’s like one or two people that complained and the school decided to make it rule (that’s what happened at my hs when a teacher didn’t like seeing people’s feet and the school banned flip flops). Instead of punishing the entire black student population at the school and shaming them into thinking that their physical appearance is inferior to whites, why not just educated those two people and explain to them why their ignorance is not ok. But seriously, when (and if) I get pregnant and have a child, I… Read more »

As long as it is nice and neat and well groom. There is no reason for this period!

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This is absolutely RIDICULOUS and I’m tired of it! It’s just HAIR the way it grows out of our scalps. Why are they so offended by it? What is it to them what those children’s hair looks like as long as it is clean?


Oh this is some bull! This list is pretty strict also, no jewelry except a watch, no hair touching the collar?? They also said hair must be natural but are afro puffs and braids natural?

I went to a school with a strict dresscode but the “rules” didnt matter after 2 weeks, so hopefully this school is just doing this for show…


They also said hair must be natural but are afro puffs and braids natural?
I was going to mention that as well…. I don’t get it


This is ridiculous! We’re always asked and criticized about our hair at the same time. 1)Why is African American hair nappy? 2)Why do black women get relaxers? 3) Why do black women wear weaves and wigs? 4)Why do black women hate their hair? It will never end! I heard a certain “freaky fast” restaurant doesn’t allow braids, dreads, and Afros on employees.


Agreed! And it’s obviously unfair and discriminatory whether they admit it’s intentional or not. Exactly what does this school then suggest Black girls/boys do with their hair?

The parents should be up in arms and are hopefully making their voices heard as every other non-Black group does when institutions reveal how oblivious they are to their needs. We can’t expect anything unless we demand it, exhausting but not new. The model is the cutest thing in the world!


TRUE. Darned if you do; darned if you don’t.

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