Read a PDF of our statement here.

In response to a recent event in which Brigham Young University-Hawaii (BYU-Hawaii) told a Black student he needed to cut his locs or else face expulsion, the Legal Defense Fund (LDF) sent a letter to the university’s president.

Colleges and universities must create welcoming, inclusive environments for all students, regardless of their race, ethnicity, or national origin. Policies that discriminate against students based on their natural hair significantly impact Black, Indigenous, and other students of color and may violate state and federal laws. That is why it is critically important for higher education officials to review university policies to prevent discriminatory outcomes and ensure compliance with the law.

In the letter, LDF expresses concerns about the university’s grooming practices, which penalize Black, Indigenous, and other students of color for wearing their natural hairstyles. We also request a meeting with John S.K. Kauwe, III, BYU-Hawaii’s president, to discuss ways to remedy the university’s grooming policies.

To educate the public on natural hair discrimination and ways we can fight back against it, LDF has compiled a list of frequently asked questions. Read them here.

Read the full letter here.


Founded in 1940, the Legal Defense Fund (LDF) is the nation’s first civil rights law organization. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the Legal Defense Fund or LDF. Please note that LDF has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights.