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Teen Faces Punishment For Long Hair
Daly Says He Can't Cut Hair Because Of Religious Beliefs
POSTED: 10:05 pm CDT September 26, 2007
UPDATED: 11:14 pm CDT September 26, 2007
LEAKEY, Texas -- A Leakey High School senior is being told by his school district to cut his hair, but the student claimed religious values ban him from cutting it.
Now, Ben Daly, 18, said he's being punished by the school district.
Daly said he is willing to take it all the way to the Supreme Court. In the meantime, the Daly said he has contacted the American Civil Liberties Union.
"I've gone here since kindergarten. I know everybody, basically," Daly said.
In the small town of Leakey, everyone knows about Daly's haircut fiasco.
"My faith is Rastafarian," Daly said.
Rastafarianism is a religion created in the early 1900s.
"We take citing from Old Testament, stating you're not suppose to cut your hair," Daly said.
Daly was told on the first day of school that his hair was too long. He was told to cut it or face discipline.
"I talked to the superintendent, and that's when he supposedly got word from his attorney that my religion is illegitimate," Daly said.
Now, the former Baptist turned Rastafarian said he's being punished.
Daly said he is being educated and isolated from the rest of his classmates because of his hair. He said sometimes he gets lonely, but the school district said he violated their rules and must be disciplined.
"I get to go outside for 15 minutes just to exercise," Daly said.
John Daly, Ben's father, said he supports his son.
"In this crazy world, anything about peace and love is a way of life," John Daly said regarding Rastafarianism.
Superintendent Fred McNeil said Ben must follow the dress code like the other students. McNeil admitted Rastafarianism is a religion but needs the support of the school board.
"The school board can say what they want, but it's already been proven in other states," McNeil said.
In Louisiana, eight children, also Rastafarians, were allowed back to school after they were banned for extreme hairstyles.
And just a few weeks ago, Gov. Rick Perry signed into law a bill that protects students from being punished for expressing religious viewpoints.
"It's a little town, and it needs to come into the 21st century," John Daly said.
"I just want my education like everyone else," Ben Daly said.
Copyright 2007 by KSAT.com All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
I'm not going to Texas any time soon. Not even to change flights.
Good night, funny man, and thanks for the laughter.