(Photo: WKMG Local 6 Screenshot)
A Florida Christian school has given a 12-year-old student a week decide to cut her hair or leave the school.
After Vanessa VanDyke reported that she had been bullied by classmates for her hair, the Orlando-based Faith Christian Academy (FCA) told the middle schooler that she could not keep it as is.
VanDyke, who has been attending FCA since she was eight, has no intention or desire to modify her hair to fit her school's wishes.
"It says that I'm unique," VanDyke told WKMG. "First of all, it's puffy and I like it that way. I know people will tease me about it because it's not straight. I don't fit in."
VanDyke's school has an appearance code which states that students' hair "must be a natural color and must not be a distraction" and includes mohawks, shaved designs and rat tails as examples, though adds that the school has the right to include other styles.
"A distraction to one person is not a distraction to another," VanDyke's mother, Sabrina Kent told WKMG. "You can have a kid come in with pimples on his face. Are you going to call that a distraction?"
Kent added that despite the fact that her daughter's hair has been long all year, school officials only mentioned it once the family reported her being bullied.
"There have been people teasing her about her hair, and it seems to me that they're blaming her," said Kent, who added that she fully stands behind her daughter's hair choice.
"I'm going to fight for my daughter," Kent said. "If she wants her hair like that, she will keep her hair like that. There are people out there who may think that natural hair is not appropriate. She is beautiful the way she is."
VanDyke said that she will miss school community if FCA moves forward to expel her but she does not intend to change her hair.
"I'm depressed about leaving my friends and people that I've known for a while, but I'd rather have that than the principals and administrators picking on me and saying that I should change my hair," said VanDyke.