Thousands petition White House over 'racially biased' Army grooming regulations

Black women in uniform and the Army’s top enlisted may face a parting of the ways over new grooming rules that limit ethnic hairstyles.

The new guidelines — formally issued this week by Sergeant Major of the Army Raymond F. Chandler — bar women from wearing stylized headbands or more than two braids, each of which must be 1/4-inch or narrower.

The rules also emphasize 2005 regulations barring dreadlocks or twists, which brass define as two tails of hair wound like a rope.

Opponents angered by the rules have gone over Chandler’s head to the commander-in-chief.

A petition launched on the White House’s “We the People” web page March 20 has already gained more than 92,000 signatures from troops and others who want the Army to “allow professional ethnic hairstyles.”

“Females with natural hair take strides to style their natural hair in a professional manner when necessary," the petition reads. “These new changes are racially biased and the lack of regard for ethnic hair is apparent.”

An Army official said the regulations are based primarily on safety.

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