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School allows American Indian boy to keep hair braided for religious reasons


SLIDELL, La. (RNS) An American Indian boy who wears his hair in a braid as part of a religious custom will be allowed to remain at his school after school officials reversed an earlier decision that the child would have to cut his hair or wear his braid in a bun.

Schools Superintendent Gayle Sloan has agreed to let Curtis Harjo keep his braid, even though the practice goes against the school board’s policy regarding hair length.

Many American Indian children in the Harjos’ native Oklahoma wear their hair long as part of a long-standing tradition, said Curtis’ mother, Joni. As members of the Seminole tribe, the Harjos believe that hair should not be cut except when in mourning for a loved one.