Kabir Vega Castellanos
HAVANA TIMES — Since twenty days ago, I haven’t been allowed to enter my high school. I’m in good physical and mental condition, and I want to attend my classes as well as finish the twelfth grade and develop professionally.
A friend of mine is also going through the same situation as me. The first day of school, we waited outside the school along with the rest of the students.
They told us to go on in to our classrooms and we walked through the main entrance (the first gate), but when we tried to go through the second entrance, the principal and the vice principal cut us off.
They said we couldn’t go in until we got our hair cut.
We don’t even know where our classrooms are, and they refused to give us the books we need to study on our own. We asked why and they told us that the new dress code requires students to be “properly groomed and shaven.”
It doesn’t matter if the reason for having long hair is one’s religious belief, or if it’s the image you feel most comfortable with, or if it gives you a feeling of security… though females can grow their hair as long as they like.
My friend and I show up at school every day and every day were stopped and turned away from the grounds. The explanation is always the same: school has rules that must be complied with to the letter.
On Thursday, October 11, we left for school earlier than usual. Since it was dark we couldn’t see the sky and didn’t notice that it was cloudy. Along the way it started to drizzle, but as we got closer to the school that drizzle turned into a torrent.
Notwithstanding, they still didn’t let us come in. The principal yelled at us when we left, and when we mentioned the rain she said she wasn’t to blame for us insisting on coming to school even though they would never let us in.
I responded saying, “I come to school because it’s my duty,” to which she answered back with, “Until you fulfill your other duties [getting a haircut] you can’t come in.”
The walk back home wasn’t easy. My Alamar neighborhood is poorly designed, the sewer system is terrible, and the hilly areas tend to accumulate water – so the streets were like swamps.
A clear violation of our consitution
As we know, the school’s policy is in violation of the Cuban Constitution, which states “no young person be left without the opportunity to study.” But that isn’t what bothers me most.
What’s angering me and pushing me to the point of despair is seeing how, throughout my entire school life, they’ve always prioritized the most trivial and unimportant things.
When I was in junior high school, I used to idealize senior high and I was sure it would be a major change. But I was wrong. We have students in my own classroom who lack knowledge they should have gotten in elementary school.
Throughout this war over our “long hair,” one junior high chemistry teacher threatened to expel us from school if we didn’t get haircuts, though he wasn’t restricted by any dress standard. However when my science teacher — who’s an alcoholic — hit two students in the face, they only suspended him for a few months.
I think there are really important things here that are ignored. I’m tired of so much hypocrisy; we’re held down by certain regulations that impose senseless notions with which most people disagree.
Hell, our revolution was won by combatants wearing full beards and long hair.
I don’t understand. Perhaps I’m not conscious of everything, but I know how much I need to get through the twelfth grade, and I know that this situation is affecting me a lot.
I’ve already accumulated 16 involuntary absences, and they’ve warned us that 30 absences in a row can get us kicked out of school.