I have become a hair-vocate. That’s an advocate for hair – long hair for my son, to be specific.

Members of the Grapeland Independent School Board approved a new dress code at its last meeting.

Among the new rules: Boys hair cannot touch the bottom of the shirt collar or extend below the eyebrows or earlobes.

That's a problem for my youngest son, Walker, 15, whose hair is right at the cut-off length, and growing.

Maybe you're asking, 'What’s the big deal?' Cut his hair. Learn to follow the rules.

Problem is, I don’t agree with the rules. It's sexist to tell boys their hair must be a certain length.

We don’t tell girls that. We don’t tell girls they can’t shave their heads. We don’t tell them their bangs have to be a certain length.

As long as their hair is clean and well-groomed, there’s not a problem.

The only rule we apply to girls' hair is not to dye it with wild colors, but this rule also applies to boys.

And how does long hair interfere with education? My son had neckline length hair for most of the last school year, and he has excellent grades and test scores.

At no time did I receive a call from the school office that his hair was bothering anyone. He wasn’t a discipline problem, either, with only one infraction for the school year that had nothing to do with his hair.

Why are schools still pushing an antiquated idea of how people should dress?

It’s 2019. All kinds of people with all manners of dress, style, haircuts, and body art work in professional settings.

Some businesses have dress codes, but they typically reflect the job. My son is artsy. He wants to be an artist, an actor, or a guitarist. For anyone of those jobs, he can have long hair.

Instead of creating rules about hair, schools should focus on hiring highly qualified teachers, finding or creating curriculums that challenge and broaden students' minds, and providing programs with paths to college or trade schools.

It’s ironic: We tell kids everyday to be their authentic selves, yet here we are trying to box them up with rules on how to dress, how to look, and how to present themselves.

We are telling kids that our way is the only way.

There is a big, wide, world out there, with lots of information and ideas contrary to our own.

We push tolerance of others, but only when its in-line with our own views.

We need to teach kids how to present themselves in a polished, well-groomed manner that is acceptable and yet authentically their own.

We need to teach them the purpose of clothing: Beach clothing is for the beach, yoga and workout wear is for the gym, and pajamas are for sleeping.

Should students dress appropriately for school? Sure, but let’s be careful how we define “appropriate.”

Appropriate is clean, well-groomed, well-fitting clothing with neat hair, clean nails, and good hygiene.

Inappropriate is torn, frayed, or dirty clothing, unkept hair, and showing too much skin.

If we teach our kids to present themselves in the best way possible, they will – even if it’s in their own authentic style.