Teacher Accused of Bullying a Student for Wearing a Man Bun Insists He Was Just Joking

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A North Carolina mother is furious after she says her teenage son’s teacher has been making fun of him in class and even calling him homophobic slurs because he wears his hair in a “man bun,” and she says it went on long enough that she finally had to pull him out of class.

According to Refinery 29, Amanda Pettus says her 14-year-old son Alex is in eighth grade and has Asperger’s, and she says he’s been complaining for months that his teacher has been making fun of him from wearing his hair in a bun, or as his teacher reportedly calls it, a “man bun.”

“He said I can’t have my hair up like that because I’m not a girl, or I’m not a fag,” Alex told Fox 46.

Alex maintains that this has been going on for months, and that the teacher frequently mocked him in front of the class. Alex alleges that the teacher once said, “So you’re not completely useless … just most of the way” when he answered a question correctly in class. Another time, Alex says the teacher actually took the hair ties out of his hair.

“He said get that crap out of your hair, and then I took it down, and I put it back up because my mom told me he can’t tell me I can’t have my hair up or down because it’s my hair, and then he took the hair belt away from me,” Alex said. He says the class laughs at him when the teacher gives him trouble in class.

This is all wildly inappropriate behavior, especially saying that he can’t wear his hair in a bun because he’s “not a girl,” and using homophobic slurs in front of the classroom.

Pettus says she emailed the teacher months ago, and he said that he would never insult a student.

“I try to keep a light atmosphere in my classroom and like to have fun with what we do.  I don’t insult students, but I do tell jokes from time to time to try to keep things from getting too stuffy or serious in my classroom,” the teacher reportedly said in his response.

Joking in the classroom is fine, but a lot of people–even teachers–don’t seem to know the difference between joking with someone and picking on them. Two Georgia teachers were recently fired for a “joke” in which they gave a teenage girl a “most likely to not pay attention” award in front of the whole school at an end-of-year assembly. They thought they were joking, but the girl did not agree. That’s a good sign if something is a joke or not: If the object of the joke thinks it’s not funny, then it’s probably not funny.

“If I’ve done so, I apologize,” he wrote, referring to hurting Alex’s feelings. He said he had no recollection of ever calling a student “not completely useless.”

Pettus says she sent the email months ago, but that Alex says the mockery has not let up. She also said she’s complained to the principal the vice principal, and even the school board and superintendent, but nobody will talk to her. Last week, she pulled Alex out of the teacher’s class.

The school says it has taken no disciplinary action, saying that the teacher has no prior disciplinary issues and that the school does not have any evidence to support Alex’s accusations.

(Image: iStockPhoto / EzumeImages)