Blaise Taylor, a 14-year-old basketball player at Auburn High School in Auburn, Ala. (not pictured), was banned from his team earlier this month for wearing braids in his hair. The JV player's family filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against Auburn City Schools, but dropped their dispute on Monday after reaching an agreement with the school district to standardize the grooming policy for athletes.
According to Oanow.com, Auburn City Schools Superintendent Dr. Terry Jenkins said the new policy will be taken up by the Auburn City Schools board of education in February, but the rules that caused Blaise to choose between his hairstyle and court time would still be enforced. Blaise, the son of Auburn University assistant head football coach Trooper Taylor, says he doesn't intend to cut off his braids.
The teen says he's had the braided hairstyle since the third grade, and played sports on several teams without any problems. Then, just three days before his first JV baskeball team, Coach Frank Tolbert told the student he would not be allowed to play unless he cut his braids.
"I was in a state of shock and disbelief," Blaise said. "I worked hard to make the team and make it through the cuts. I was really disappointed I wasn't going to get to play with my teammates."
According to WSFA, the school board defended the coach's 30-year-old policy about grooming and hairstyles saying that it is in place to show students that the way they present themselves has a direct effect on how they are perceived by others.
The recently dismissed lawsuit claimed that the coach's actions violated Blaise's First and Fourteenth Amendment rights, and the policy is racially discriminatory, as it singles out a hairstyle commonly worn by black players.
What do you think of what happened to Blaise? Should he be able to play on the team? Do you think the original policy is unfair? Weigh in with your comments below.