Lately schools seem to be "giving out suspensions like they're pencils," says Jacqueline Burt at The Stir, with arguably well-meaning students being punished for a smorgasbord of what critics are calling trite and ridiculous reasons, ranging from giving hugs to Tebowing. Late last week, a Texas middle schooler joined the ranks of students suspended for silly reasons after he shaved the image of his favorite basketball player into his hair. Here, seven strange reasons students have been suspended:
1. A creative haircut
Patrick Gonzalez, a 12-year-old student at Woodlake Hills Middle School in San Antonio, was given an in-school suspension after his enthusiasm for NBA star Matt Bonner went too far. Gonzalez had the San Antonio Spurs forward's likeness shaved into his hair, which school officials claimed was a violation of the school dress code. In order to return to school, Gonzalez had to shave his head bald, removing traces of the tribute. But all was not for naught: Bonner was so flattered by Gonzalez's devotion that he called it "the nicest thing a fan has ever done for me," and sent the middle schooler playoff tickets and autographed swag.
2. Hugging a friend
Florida middle schooler Nick Martinez thought nothing of giving his best friend, a female student, a quick hug between classes — until he was suspended for the embrace. As it turns out, Southwest Middle School in Palm Bay has a strict no-hugging policy, in order to prevent harassment and keep students focused on learning. At a time when the bullying epidemic is such a grave concern, a mutual, platonic embrace shouldn't be punished, says Jeanne Sager at The Stir.
Matt Bonner isn't the only athlete indirectly responsible for a student's suspension. A group of high schoolers in Riverhead, N.Y., was suspended after mimicking NFL quarterback Tim Tebow's "Tebowing" stance in the hallway of Riverhead High School. Four boys struck the kneeling pose between classes, inspiring upwards of 40 other classmates to join in. School officials cited the quartet for causing a traffic jam in the hallway, an apparent violation of school rules. "I don't know what's crazier," says Sportress of Blogitude, "that people are so obsessed with Tebowing or the fact that these kids got suspended for doing it."
4. Growing hair for charity
Michigan teen J.T. Gaskin is a leukemia survivor, and he knows firsthand the crucial confidence that a wig from the Locks of Love charity can give an ailing cancer patient who has gone bald. After hearing that a friend's sister had been diagnosed with cancer, Gaskin decided to grow the 10-inch ponytail required by Locks of Love for a donation in her honor. But Gaskin was only able to grow his hair about 2.5 inches before he was suspended by his school, Madison Academy, for violating a dress code stipulation that boys' hair be "off the collar, off the ears, and out of the eyes." I'm all for abiding by dress codes when they make sense, says Jo Ashline at The Orange County Register, "but when a 17-year-old with a giant heart gets busted for growing out his hair for charity... I call B.S."
5. Singing a hit song
Hip-hop group LMFAO's popular single "I'm Sexy and I Know It" is "so catchy, even a 6-year-old boy can pick it up, says Amanda Sloane at HLN TV. That's what happened in Colorado, where young D'Avonte Meadows started singing the tune — which includes lyrics like "Girl, look at that body" — to a classmate in his school's lunch line, and was promptly suspended for sexual harassment. While the lyrics were undeniably inappropriate for the boy to be singing, says Jeff Kart at Parentables, it's hard to blame him for being familiar with the track. After all, it's featured in an excessively repeated M&M's commercial, and was parodied by Elmo on Sesame Street.
6. Calling a teacher 'cute'
A 9-year-old North Carolina boy was also suspended for arguably dubious claims of sexual harassment, only his offense was calling a teacher "cute." A substitute teacher overhead Emanyea Lockett give out the compliment chatting with a friend and reported him. "I said Ms. Taylor was cute," Lockett says. "That's all I said." His mother hardly thinks the act qualifies as sexual harassment: "It's not like he went up to the woman and tried to grab her or touch her in a sexual way."
At a middle school in Virginia, an A student at Southampton Middle School was given a one-day suspension for holding an exterior door open for an adult who had her hands full. The student knew the adult, but the school has a policy that prohibits letting a visitor in before he or she is vetted by a security camera. According to the school district's superintendent, the strict rule is essential to ensure that the high-tech security system is effective.