Oklahoma school district punishes students for refusing to remove cultural headwraps

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BYNG, Okla. (KFOR) - A group of Byng High School students is speaking out after being punished for wearing their African headwraps to school.

"My pride and my heritage and where my ancestors come from," Delanie Seals told News 4.

Seals said that's what her African headwrap means to her. So, she was disappointed when she was reprimanded for wearing it to school at Byng High School.

"He told me to take it off, and what was that thing on my head, it seemed a little disrespectful," Seals said.

School administrators told her it was a dress code violation and a safety concern.

The same thing happened to Avaunt Brown a few years ago at Byng Junior High.

"I was confused because to me, my headwrap doesn't have the same meaning as just like a regular baseball cap," Brown said.

Seals and Is'Abella Miller share that confusion, especially after they were hit with an ultimatum the last time they tried to wear their headwraps to school.

"He basically said either take it off or go to ISD, and we said we'll take the ISD because we're not taking something off that has such a symbolic meaning," Miller said.

They were sent to ISD, which stands for in-school detention.

Frustrated that they were punished for embracing their culture, the two reached out to Nashoba Holba and Taloa Sharp who are local activists with AIM Indian Territory.

"To put some children in in-school detention over something that they believe in, that's spiritual and cultural to them and supporting their heritage is totally wrong," Holba told News 4.

Holba shared it on social media and encouraged the students to go to the school board with their concerns.

No action has been taken yet, but the students are hoping their story might spark some change.

"Byng should be a place for diversity. It shouldn't be a thing that's shunned for any reason," Seals said. "That's the same for any school."

The superintendent for Byng Public Schools told News 4 that the board has listened to the students' request to be able to wear their African headwraps at school and no decision has been made.


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