Fox 13

Is This White Teen Being 'Racially Profiled' For Her Dreadlocks?

The eighth grader says she's prepared to transfer schools over it.

Caycee Cunningham, an eighth grader at Lincoln Academy in Pleasant Grove, Utah, is currently battling her school over what her mother, Tonya Judd, claimed to be "racial profiling."

After studying abroad in Guatemala, Caycee, who is white, returned to Lincoln Academy with dreadlocks and was asked by her principal to remove them, allegedly for violating the school's dress code. Fox 13 reports that Caycee grew the dreads "as part what she calls a spiritual journey in her Hindu beliefs."

"I guess it's just like representing, like, me turning over a new leaf and, like, trying to find myself," Caycee told the outlet.

The school maintains that Caycee's new hair is a violation of its dress code. Lincoln Academy Principal Jake Hunt said that while the school doesn't have a particular policy on dreadlocks, it requires that students' hair have a "neat, combed appearance, be appropriate for school, and not be distracting in the classroom."

Caycee's mom, Tonya, spoke to Principal Hunt over the phone after he'd talked to her daughter. She thinks the issue goes deeper than the dress code.

"My daughter is white and there's other students in school who happen to be of other race and ethnicity and they have hair that can’t be combed, and there’s never been an issue regarding that before," she said. "Not only have they been racially profiling my daughter because she happens to be a white girl with dreadlocks, but it's also taking away the rights of my daughter's religious beliefs and her spiritual journey of what it is she's going through."

Dreadlocks are a historically black hairstyle, though the issue of cultural appropriation hasn't been raised by the Lincoln Academy, Tonya or Caycee.

In a statement to MTV News, Principal Hunt said "we have reached out to her mother and hope she will be willing to meet with us in the near future to seek a resolution."

Both Caycee and her mom said they won't remove the dreadlocks. In fact, Caycee said she's willing to transferring schools over the issue.

MTV News has reached out to Tonya Judd for comment.

To learn more about cultural appropriation, you can head over to MTV's Look Different.