A mother of a Pender High School student in Burgaw, NC, says the JROTC program at the school will not let her son, who has dreadlocks join the JROTC program.
Renya Armstrong says her 14-year-old son was told he could not be in JROTC because one of the hair requirements doesn’t allow dreads, but according to USACC REG 145-2 at USArmyJROTC.COM, students participating in the program are permitted to have braids, dreads, or cornrows “as long as they are neat and conservative.”
VIEW PICTURE OF POLICY BELOW:
Armstrong tells The North Carolina Beat that on September 8, 2022, her 9th-grade student, whose name we will not mention, sent her a text message stating that he would have to take out his dreadlocks to be in the JROTC program at Pender High School.
Armstrong said her son’s only options the school gave him were to take his dreads our or cut his hair.
After Armstrong spoke with the school’s principal, Caroline Godwin, and the program sergeant, she decided to take her son out.
I chose for him to be taken out the program because a class shouldn’t deny him based off your looks, Armstrong said. My child had to learn at 14 just coming into his self that he could be denied from his looks.
According to Armstrong, she was informed by other parents that at Brunswick County High Schools, students were allowed to have braids, cornrows, or dreads as long as they were neat.
We confirmed the information Armstrong received from other parents.
The North Carolina Beat spoke with a JROTC source at South Brunswick High School who said the new policy change came on August 12, 2022, does allow students with dreads to be in the program as long as their dreads are “neat and conservative and does not make the headgear “bulky.”
Armstrong said that her son begged her for two years to get dreadlocks, and in July of this year, she made the decision to allow him to. She said she does not want anyone to define her son based on his looks.
I am trying to teach him not to let someone define him based on his looks, Armstrong said.
Armstrong said she believes Pender County High School is working backward and discriminating against Black kids based on their looks.
I feel the school system is still working backwards because the new generation of black kids has either braids, cornrows, or dreadlocks, armstrong said.
Armstrong sent us a picture of her 14-year-old son’s dreads, which are neat and conservative and would not make his headgear bulky.
LOOK AT THE PICTURE BELOW:
Pender County High School’s decision to not allow Armstrong’s son into the program was discriminatory.
I feel as a parent they’re teaching young minorities they have to change their appearance and the way they see fit in order to be accepted into the military, meanwhile, other schools have changed their JROTC policy because the military has come forth and accept it dreads, Armstrong said.
Armstrong said her son has been growing his dreads for three months. She wouldn’t dare cut her son’s dreadlocks to join the JROTC program that, by policy, allow dreads as long as their hair is “neat and conservative,” In the picture above, her son’s is.
If you have a story, please send to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.