Wrap this up

Head wear policy causes major misunderstanding


“Take that hat off young man!”

We’ve heard this phrase one too many times before. Whether you have a hood on your head because it is freezing cold or a baseball cap because it’s hot and sunny, you are immediately commanded by the security guards to remove it.

Anyone who attends H-F knows that hats are not allowed to be worn in the building. According to the parent-student handbook: “students may not wear thick head bands, scarves or other headgear unless they are given permission by a dean for religious purposes.”

When questioned by The Voyager about the importance of the policy, the deans had no comments on the matter.

Senior Gabrielle Bello had a difficult time obtaining permission from the deans when she started wearing a head wrap for her own Christian religious beliefs.

When we think about head wear worn for religious reasons, we may default to a traditional hijab worn by Muslim women; however, this by no means is the only type of head wear worn because of religion, and this was no different than what Bello was doing.

Gabrielle first started wearing her head wrap on the first Sunday in November. During school the next day, she said she was stopped by a dean who told her she could not wear the garment on her head. Bello was sent to the dean’s office.

“They checked my ID picture to see if I’ve worn it before. Seeing that I haven’t, (the dean) continued to question why I was wearing it and what made me start to wear it, but I could see that (the dean) didn’t believe me,” Bello explained.

After obtaining verbal consent from her mother, Gabby was given permission to wear her head wrap; however, she was told that she has to wear it for the remainder of the school year or not at all.

Gaining permission was a relatively small victory for Bello but she continues to be scrutinized by staff members. In order to practice her religion and wear her head wrap, she has to remind security guards that she has documentation to wear her head wrap which, according to Bello, is “absurd” and “extremely damaging.”

This same frustration and discomfort was felt by other students when they were punished for wearing scarves or wraps to cover their hair. Senior Tiki Brown received a three hour Saturday detention for wearing a scarf to school one day.

“I was pissed because I feel like they were culturally insensitive,” Brown said.
Bello highlighted this insensitivity expressed by Tiki while she was questioned. “The deans acted as if I was lying and used it as an excuse to cover my hair for a ‘bad hair day,’ she said.

A simple, personal choice to wear a head wrap, especially a decision based on religious beliefs, should not result in so much anxiety for students as they navigate their high school years.

Perhaps the deans don’t realize the weight of their words when dealing with these situations, but it makes a lasting impact on those who choose to express their identity.