A teacher’s guidelines for middle school choir concert sparked outrage after he banned “Mowhawks, Afros or other outlandish hairstyles,” and advised students to see barbers or cosmetologists before the event.
According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, the initial letter was curated by Steven Reeves, a black music teacher at Pleasant Run Middle School in Ohio, who apologized on Monday “for any negative feelings that were created.”
The letter drew backlash after it was posted across social media. Reeves acknowledged that the wording of the initial letter was insensitive.
Boys, the letter stated should “receive appropriate barber attention the evening before the concert. Mohawks, ‘Barber Designs’ and Large Afros are unacceptable,” Reeves wrote. “Men with long hair (i.e. Dreadlocks or Braids) should devote the necessary attention to make sure that hair is neat and pulled behind the neck in a conservative ponytail style.”
As for the girls, they were “strongly encouraged to visit the cosmetologist the evening before the concert. Hair must be styled in a manner that will not draw any specific attention to an individual performer on stage. Therefore bright colors such as Pink or Red are not permissible.”
“The aforementioned dress and grooming code will be strictly enforced,” the letter noted. “if a student does not comply…they will be sent home the evening of the concert and subsequently forfeit their grade for the concert and second marking period.”
Of course, many thought the guidelines issued by Reeves specifically targeted black students, and many called for his termination in social media responses.
The Northwest Local School District also issued an apology for “the frustration the original language caused or breakdown in the relationship that resulted from the original set of guidelines.”
“The original student presentation guidelines were not approved and not reflective of how we feel in any way. In collaboration with the PRMS Choir Teacher Dr. Reeves, PRMS Principal Mr. Dunn, and Administrative Office Personnel, the guidelines have been corrected and now reflect the desire for concert attire that presents our students in the best manner and are in line with current school practices and policies,” the statement continued.