Student Suspended for Shaving Her Head

The world operates on rules. We need rules. Without rules, the world would be chaos. We need rules about driving or traffic fatalities would be higher than they are. We need rules about the law or we would live in anarchy. Without rules, athletic contests would make no sense. Rules are important.

Most rules are created in order to correct a wrong or to prevent wrong. For instance, a baseball pitcher is not allowed to touch his mouth with his hand while he is standing on the pitcher’s mound because it was discovered that this is how pitchers were able to throw spitballs and give themselves an unfair advantage. Laws about how we treat prisoners were instituted because for years, prisoners were treated in ways that were cruel and inhuman. New York State created a law that assesses a fine for using a non hands-free cell phone while driving because the distraction was causing accidents and deaths. We need rules and laws: they help us operate more effectively as a society. But sometimes rules need to be overruled by common sense.

According to numerous news sources, Kamryn Renfro decided to shave her head to support her friend Delaney Clements who was undergoing chemotherapy for Stage 4 cancer, but school officials at Caprock Academy in Grand Junction, Colorado barred her from returning to the public charter school until her hair grew back. Her shaved head violates the school’s dress code which seems to be intended to create uniformity and to eliminate distractions. The code seems to have been intended to minimize rebellious behavior or gang connections which is a worthwhile reason to create this rule. Unfortunately, this is a case when the rule carries more weight than common sense which seems to be a trend in our society today.

One article stated that in addition to this situation in Colorado, a Ohio high school student was arrested and expelled after school officials searched his car without his consent and found a pocket knife. The knife was part of the student’s EMT training kit used to cut seat belts of accident victims in crashed cars. In another story, a girl was suspended for taking a knife away from a suicidal student. Even more unbelievable, a 5-year-old was suspended for eating a pastry that was shaped a bit like a gun.

We read these stories and wonder where in the world is common sense. At what point do we stop and analyze the situation to decide what is happening. In many of these cases, only when there is community outrage is the situation addressed, much less reversed.

Here’s my point: while we cry “foul” about these rules-oriented decisions, how many times do we ignore common sense in order to maintain the rules that we as Christians have created? How many times do we see people doing what we consider to be breaking a rule and condemn them without stopping to consider or ask if we truly understand what they are doing and why? Our world has become a place of judge first, ask questions later. We have become so cynical that our culture assumes the worst of people. This is another place in which Christians need to set a different tone and send a different message.

We are people of grace. We are Christians only because of God’s grace and God calls us to be people whose first recourse is to offer grace. While the culture responds then clarifies, our reputation should be ask questions, then decide. We ought to be known as the one group of people who gives others the benefit of the doubt. When everyone else jumps to conclusions, we refuse to make that mistake. We believe that the love of God compels us to think the best of people—to be wise, for sure, but to look for what is right before we assume what is wrong.

I fear that our reputation is not so good in this area. Someone needs to improve how people see us. Is there any reason why you and I shouldn’t be the first ones to make the first move?