A Safety Disclaimer

July 15, 2008

Before my son’s pictures end up on http://fuglyhorseoftheday.blogspot.com/ I figured I’d better say this.

Adriel always wears a helmet and proper footwear when riding. His hair is also kept braided so it is out of the way and not blowing all over the place. Of course, photos of properly helmeted children don’t sell newspapers so  he has his hair blowing wildly and no saddle, bridle or safety equipment in sight.

 If it makes you feel any better, Grandma was just outside of the frame of the photo at Nipper’s head and Kenney and I were also just outside of the photo ready to steady Adriel should Nippers do anything funny. Either way, these are great photos that show what not to do with kids and horses.

Luckily, Nipper is somewhere in his 20s and could care less what anyone does to him as long as he gets his feed bucket every day.

As a side note, I love the Fugly Horse of the Day blog. Its snarky, educational and a blast to read. If Adriel’s pictures end up there, I would not be surprised but I would not be upset by it either.  Someone has to try to teach all the idiots out there what not to do.

F.H.O.T.D. isn’t all negative though. Somewhere in there is a post about my mom’s old Appy mare that we had to put down a few years ago. She was 37 and had carried 4 generations of our family. She was Adriel’s first horse and the first horse I became aquainted with as a child. My mom bought her when Girlie was a four year old and moved her all the way from Pennsylvania to Texas. Here she is not long before her death with Adriel as a two year old.

Anyway, here are the pictures from the Chronicle website.

I promise next time he’ll have on his helmet and boots.


Houston Chronicle Article

July 15, 2008


At the moment, it is on the first page of the Chronicle’s website.

Houston Press Article

July 10, 2008

This is a repost of my myspace blog so some of it is about our school problem and some of it is about unrelated stuff. Thanks for reading. 🙂



Paul Knight at The Houston Press wrote an article about our problem. I think its a well written article that manages to show both sides in an unbiased way. I need to go out and pick up a copy or two since there is also an article about the local Goth scene that mentions a couple of friends of ours. Anyway, here is the link to the article on Adriel’s hair.



A Native American Family Fights Against Hair Length Rules

When five-year-old Adriel Arocha ran afoul of the Needville school district, getting cut off wasn’t an option for his parents

By Paul Knight

published: July 10, 2008

Five-year-old Adriel Arocha has been mistakenly called a pretty little girl. 

“No, I’m a boy,” Adriel told one stranger. “I have a penis.”

Adriel’s long, ink-black hair caused the confusion. He’s never had a haircut.

His father, Kenney Arocha, is part Native American. He teaches spiritual beliefs to his son that his grandfather and uncles taught to him. Michelle Betenbaugh, Arocha’s wife and Adriel’s mother, isn’t Native American, but she supports raising her son as such.

“I’m an Indian,” Adriel says. “How long my hair is, it tells me how long I’ve been here.”

Currently living in Stafford, Arocha plans to move his family to Needville, a town of about 3,000 residents, 40 miles southwest of Houston. The family owns about 50 acres in Needville, and Arocha and Betenbaugh want to turn the land into a sustainable farm, teaching Adriel where food comes from and the importance of conservation.

“We like the idea of trying to minimize our impact,” Arocha says.

Adriel’s parents want to enroll him at Needville Elementary School. Betenbaugh sent an e-mail to the principal, asking about kindergarten and explaining Adriel’s long hair. The principal replied that the district doesn’t allow long hair on boys.

On June 9, the family met with Curtis Rhodes, the Needville superintendent. Rhodes asked what religion upheld that Adriel could not cut his hair. The family explained there wasn’t a church or doctrine they followed, but they believe that Adriel’s hair is sacred.

Arocha said that his belief is to cut his hair after life-changing events, such as mourning the death of someone he loves.

Rhodes told the family Adriel’s hair would have to go.

“I’ve got a lot of friends that are Native-American Indians from Oklahoma, South Dakota, lot of places, some over in ­Louisiana in the Choctaw Nation, and they all cut their hair,” Rhodes says. “We’re not going to succumb to everything and just wash away our policies and procedures.”

Since the meeting, Arocha and Betenbaugh have been preparing to fight Rhodes and the school district. The family contacted the American Indian Movement, which has offered to speak to district officials. They also contacted the American Civil Liberties Union, which is deciding whether to take the case.

The superintendent has suggested a possible solution would be to put Adriel in a classroom apart from other students with his own teacher. The district has an alternative disciplinary school, but Adriel is too young to be assigned to that.

“In my 20 years in education, I’ve never had a kindergartner refuse to follow the rules of the school district,” Rhodes says. “So this is uncharted territory for us, too.”

Arocha and Betenbaugh aren’t budging. They plan to take Adriel to kindergarten once the school year starts, even if his teachers send him home every day.

“In my fantasy world, I would have went in, pled my case, let them meet my son, and the community I’ve chosen to live in would have said, ‘Hey, I want to be progressive.’ Unfortunately, that isn’t what happened,” Arocha says. “We had one person tell us it would be easier to sell the property and move. They didn’t say it maliciously. They just said it would be easier on ourselves and our son if we moved to a more tolerant ­environment.”

Needville promotes itself as the town “where thousands live the way millions wish they could.” The slogan is painted on signs around town and posted on the city’s Chamber of Commerce Web site.

The sprawl from Houston to Sugar Land to Richmond hasn’t touched the community. A couple feed supply stores and a family-owned hardware store remain downtown. Needville celebrates its annual Harvest Festival in October.

The population has grown some in recent years, but Rhodes believes it’s the town’s old-fashioned values that keep Needville appealing.

“We have a lot of people tell us all the time that they move here strictly for the school system. This is just from the opposite side. [Arocha and Betenbaugh] want to move in, yet they want to change this part to fit how they practice or what they believe in,” Rhodes says. “A school district is a reflection of the community. We’ve consistently been very conservatively dressed, very conservatively disciplined. It’s no secret what our policy is: You’ll cut your hair to the right point. You’ll tuck in your shirt. You’ll have a belt.”

He continues, “How can it be outdated? How many doctors, professionals, lawyers, look at your military branches, look at bankers, how many of them have long hair? How many have beards? How many have body piercings all over their face?”

Rhodes graduated from Needville High School in 1983, when his father was superintendent in the neighboring town of Damon. His grandfather had been a superintendent as well.

“I’ve never had a hair past my ears,” Rhodes says. “I’m pretty much a rule follower. I’m not out to, just because there’s a rule I got to try to break it. I wasn’t raised that way, I wasn’t genetically put together that way. If they say do this, I’m going to do it.”

When Rhodes married, he married a woman born and raised in Needville. The couple left the town when they were younger, but returned to raise their kids.

“If you want to think we’re backwards…no one is asking you to move to Needville and have these opinions invoked on you,” Rhodes says. “All the kids I graduated with — there’s a bunch of us back in Needville — we never thought we’d come back. Backwards isn’t all that bad when you become the parent.”

Arocha’s father and mother didn’t embrace their Native American heritage. By Arocha’s calculations, his family descends from a southwestern Apache tribe that split for Mexico in the 1880s, in fear of being herded onto a reservation. His ancestors are mixed Spanish-Apache, and a DNA profile has confirmed this.

Arocha’s family presented itself as Mexican to blend in with families in Rosenberg, where Arocha was raised.

But he remembers a grandfather and uncles who wore long hair and spoke of Apache culture. Arocha’s hair grew long when he was a child. The day before kindergarten started, however, Arocha’s mother took him to the barber for a buzz cut.

“I remember screaming, because I didn’t understand. Then I went home, and my mom said I could go to school,” Arocha says. “I don’t fault her for it. It was easier for her; it was what was expected to do.”

Arocha hasn’t cut his hair since he met Betenbaugh about ten years ago. Today he owns a clothing company in which he designs corsets and other pieces of exotic clothing. Betenbaugh is his seamstress. They sell many of their designs to shops in the Montrose area.

A few years ago, Arocha had several surgeries to correct malformations in his brain, and he pleaded with the doctors not to shave his head. The doctors eventually agreed.

“When we found out Michelle was pregnant, it lit a fire under me,” Arocha says. “I had tried assimilating, but it never quite worked.”

“To some, long hair may seem to be a trivial issue,” writes Timothy Zahniser in the American Indian Law Review. “What is not trivial is a study of Big Sandy…which provides an excellent academic study of constitutional personal liberty.”

Zahniser’s article covers a court case from about 15 years ago, when a group of students from the Alabama and Coushatta Indian tribes sued the Big Sandy Independent School District in Polk County.

The case started when a tenth grader was instructed by the principal at Big Sandy High School to cut his hair. The student refused and was sent to in-school detention. Other male students were later placed in detention for the same reason.

Parents of the students approved of the long hair, citing religious beliefs, though most of the parents openly practiced ­Christianity.

The judge in the Big Sandy case ruled that “the wearing of long hair for religious reasons is protected, even though it is not a fundamental tenet of Native American religion.”

“To [Native American] students, the wearing of long hair can have a religious significance and can be regarded as representative of pride in their culture and traditions. Parents have a right to encourage and supervise that pride,” Zahniser writes. “The right of Native American students in public schools to wear long hair should not be infringed.”

The Needville school district had a taste of lawsuit over its policies in 2004. In that case, a middle-school girl wore a T-shirt displaying the phrase, “Somebody went to HOOVER DAM, and all I got was this DAM shirt.”

The first day the girl wore the shirt, the principal told her to change or go home. She had an extra shirt and changed.

But the girl wore the shirt for six consecutive days. The principal continued to tell the girl to change, and her parents took her home each day.

“We’ll let her come to school as long as she can wear her T-shirt,” J.R. Mercer, the girl’s father, told the Fort Bend Herald-Coaster.

The family sued for $10,000 for each day the girl missed school, and wanted the school board to stop opening its meetings with prayer. The suit was eventually ­dismissed.

Rhodes wasn’t superintendent during the T-shirt lawsuit, and he doesn’t see any parallels between that case and Arocha’s ­argument.

“As we look at it, we have an individual from Stafford who is unhappy, or doesn’t agree with my decision that if their child were to come here, we would have him cut his hair. I haven’t seen where religion comes into this yet,” Rhodes says. “We want to be fair and nondiscriminatory, yet it has to have standardization to it. Otherwise, I’m going to come in and say, ‘Well, my child doesn’t believe in listening to teachers.’ How bizarre can you get? You’ve got to have rules and order anywhere you go and anything you do.”

After Rhodes ruled that Adriel would have to cut his hair, he also said the family could appeal his decision. Rhodes sent the family appeal forms, and Arocha and Betenbaugh will present a case to the Needville school board at a meeting on July 16.

“[The school board is] pretty solid, and they’re proud of the Needville heritage we have here,” Rhodes says. “There’s a lot of school districts that have lost their discipline and all their beliefs. Needville’s pretty tight about that, they’re pretty tight about the traditions they have.”

Arocha and Betenbaugh expect the school board to uphold the ruling, and the next step is a lawsuit. If the American Indian Movement or the ACLU doesn’t provide lawyers, Betenbaugh says the family will hire its own.

“I don’t want this to go to trial; I don’t want them to have to waste their money to defend this,” Arocha says. “They had an individual burn down part of their high school last year. I would much rather them spend their money fixing the high school than having to hire a lawyer to defend something that’s constitutionally protected.”

When the family started dealing with the school disrict, Betenbaugh launched a blog, thestitchwitch.wordpress.com. Rhodes says the Web site has passed through Needville like hot fire.

“There’s been some statements thrown by the family about bashing Needville,” he says. “I’ve heard about it at the feed store and downtown at the restaurants. Needville is going to stand tight and unified. We’re still going to be Needville.”

Arocha says that when this started, he explained the problem to Adriel. And he believes that his son understands.

“I don’t want to cut my hair, so we’re having an argument,” Adriel says. “I want to go to school. I don’t know how to read. I’ve never gone to daycare, so I really want to go.”

Arocha and Betenbaugh bought the land in Needville in October. Neither expected such a problem, but now that one exists, Arocha believes the issue has become bigger than him or Adriel.

“The Native American Freedom of Religion Act was passed in 1978. I was three. I was three when my people were finally given the ability to express their religious beliefs,” he says. “Here we are, 30 years later, and they want me to give it back. I don’t feel like I can waver on this.”



The only corrections I have are that Adriel’s hair is brown not black and we only do custom corsets, not sell to local stores. I probably would if I had more time though.

Just for fun, here is the local Goth scene article. I’m sure I’ll get all kinds of “OMG! Ur a devil worshipper!” shit now. Oh well, see you at Underworld!


Peeking Inside the Shadowy Crypt of Houston’s Goth Community

By Chris Gray

published: July 10, 2008

Thursday is a red-letter day for a curious, long-lived musical subculture that, the rest of the year, generally favors black. Bauhaus founder and frontman Peter Murphy is playing Meridian, his first Houston performance in several years. In certain circles, it’s like Elvis or the Dalai Lama dropping by. Seriously. 

“There is no one like him right now,” says Jill McKee, Meridian promotions manager and a Murphy/Bauhaus fan for some 20 years. “Icon is the only word I can think of. He’s a consummate performer.” 

Bauhaus formed in Northampton, England, in 1978, in the immediate wake of the UK’s punk-rock explosion. Their music fused elements of punk, David Bowie-style glam-rock, Hammer horror-film imagery and the audience-provoking aesthetic of “Theater of Cruelty” founder Antonin Artaud, in whose honor Bauhaus named a song on their 1983 album Burning from the Inside.

Especially after the band appeared performing nine-minute opus “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” in The Hunger — Tony Scott’s 1983 vampire film starring Bowie, Catherine Deneuve and Susan Sarandon — Murphy and Bauhaus have come to represent the macabre strain of post-punk known as Goth in many, even most, people’s minds. And ever since, both musically and visually, Goth has been one of the easiest styles to identify and also one of the trickiest to define.

Goth likely first trickled into Houston on the airwaves of KTRU’s “S&M” program, the famous three-hour punk and New Wave show that ran Friday nights from 1979 to 1990. David Sadof, who would later spin several of the bands he heard on “S&M” on shows for Houston stations such as KLOL and The Buzz, remembers tuning in while still in high school, around 1980 or ’81.

“It was not a Gothic show at all, by any means, but it was where you might hear XTC, and you might hear Siouxsie & the Banshees and some of these groups,” he says. “It’s quite possible the bands who were in existence at that time may have been played on that show.”

From 1982 to 1986, Sadof was a DJ on KSHU, the student-run radio station (90.5 FM) at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville. Again on Friday nights, he played what was then known as “alternative” music for an audience comprised of both college students and guests of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Some prisoners would write letters saying how much they enjoyed the show, he recalls, “but we weren’t allowed to answer, for obvious reasons.”

Sadof played mostly what he calls the “neo-psychedelic” music of R.E.M., Echo & the Bunnymen and Robyn Hitchcock, for example, but also groups like Bauhaus, Joy Division, the Cure and Mission UK, bands who took the remnants of punk rock in a decidedly darker direction and began being labeled “Goth” or “goth-rock.” He left heavier, less radio-friendly bands like Christian­ Death and the Virgin Prunes alone, but continued incorporating Goth’s more accessible strains into his “Exposure” program on KLOL upon graduating and moving back to Houston.

“I would definitely include that music in my show,” he says. “I would play Sisters of Mercy, songs like ‘Lucretia My Reflection’ and ‘This Corrosion,’ Mission UK and several other groups of that ilk. I found that because that music was included, I definitely had a segment of my audience that was the Goth crowd.”

This crowd rapidly began making itself at home at Numbers, which hosted Siouxsie & the Banshees as early as 1980 and brought in a wealth of other Gothic acts — Killing Joke, Mission UK, Shriekback, Love & Rockets, Clan of Xymox, even some of the Cure’s first Texas shows — over the ensuing decade. It was the club’s weekly DJ nights, though, where Sisters of Mercy, the Cure and Bauhaus were in heavy rotation, attracting dark-minded youth from across the area.

“There were always these 15-year-old goth-rockers,” Sadof says. “It didn’t matter what year it was, you’d go to Numbers and there’d always be these 15-year-old Goth girls. They were ubiquitous.”

One such “Goth girl” was a young Clear Creek High School student who, once upon a time, found a Sisters of Mercy cassette at Sound Warehouse’s Baybrook Mall store. Today, as DJ Mina, she oversees Numbers’ Underworld nights, one of the local Goth community’s main gathering spots. Underworld began about nine years ago, and although the crowds ultimately proved too sparse to sustain it as a weekly event, Mina says it’s found better success every third Saturday (unless preempted by a special event), averaging between 200 and 300 people.

However, when it comes to how many of her Underworld flock actively identify themselves as Goth versus people who just show up because they like the music, Mina isn’t sure. This “Who’s more Goth?” debate began almost at the moment the genre was coined and intensified when many Gothic artists’ natural affinity for synthesizers, drum machines and dance music led to the rise of subgenres such as industrial (Ministry, KMFDM) and Electronic Body Music, or EBM (And One, Front 242, Nitzer Ebb) in the late ’80s and early ’90s. A few years after that, the mainstream popularity of artists like Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson, who used heavy Goth imagery in many songs and videos, muddied the waters even further.

“There’s a lot of confusion,” Mina admits. “When I was younger, when I discovered the whole Gothic genre of music, it crossed over into the style of dress, but at that time that was kind of typical.

“If you were punk, you dressed punk,” Mina continues. “There was that kind of thing where your music represented you. Whereas now, as Goth has become more popular and mainstream, I think Goth is a form of expression for some people and not necessarily about the music.”

If Houston’s Goth community has never been especially large — especially when compared to places like New Orleans, hometown of Goth figureheads Marie Laveau and Anne Rice — it’s had its share of colorful characters. Sadof remembers a pale blond woman named Sarah whom he approached at a Dead Can Dance show about hosting a Goth episode of his Buzz show “What the Hell Is This?” Everybody knew Sarah, he chuckles, because she drove a hearse. Another key figure in local Goth lore is DJ and model Dana Dark, who Mina says has temporarily dropped out of the scene after having a baby.

Over the years, besides Numbers, local Goths have gravitated to places like Laveau’s in Montrose, the Vatican on Washington, the Axiom on McKinney and especially Power Tools, the dank basement club on Franklin Street downtown that to date is Numbers’ only serious rival as Goth’s Houston home base. (“I don’t know how many times I fell down those stairs,” laughs Mina.) Today, besides Underworld, the other major Goth outfit in town is the Havok collective headed by DJ Naika, which hosts the more industrial-leaning Ataxia night at Jet Lounge on Tuesdays, as well as special events at the Engine Room and its own recently acquired warehouse on Luell Street.

Similarly, the roster of local bands who qualify as Goth is fairly thin. Houston birthed bygone bands such as Bozo Porno Circus, Dethkultur BBQ and the Pain Teens, who married Goth to industrial, noise and metal. Still extant, though rarely playing out, is Asmodeus X, who made enough waves to warrant a 1999 Houston Press article. Today, Opulent, which also combines Goth with generous amounts of industrial, metal and dance music, is one of the few Houston Goth practitioners that books shows on a regular basis.

“Our scene is kind of low-key,” says Opulent frontman Allison Scott, whose band shares a practice space with Asmodeus X. “There’s bands out there, but they don’t play that much. It’s kind of hard to get support for it, to be quite honest with you. Some venues can be hard to get in, and because you’re not always playing with other Goth bands, it can be hard to match you up with somebody that you fit in with.”

Luckily, if there’s one thing Goths are used to by now, it’s not fitting in. Years of constant misconceptions and outright stereotyping have given rise to a community that’s unusually tolerant and accepting of outsiders. Besides, adds Mina, it’s not always that easy to spot a Goth. They’re not always the guy with too much eyeliner or the girl in fishnets.

“There are a lot of people that are into Gothic music that don’t look the part,” she says. “The way we feel about it, as far as my general group of people I hang out with and the people I attract to the club, is it’s more about the music. You don’t have to wear a certain color or fit a certain style. You don’t have to wear a corset.”


This just in! Religious freedom in schools will lead to the downfall of society!!!

July 9, 2008


Put on your foil hats kids, this is gonna be a good one.

 I seem to have aquired a new reader on livejournal with some interesting(?) theories. See comments here or read the italicized copy/paste.


</em></a></em></strong></font></a>[info]sluedeke ( wrote:

Jul. 8th, 2008 09:51 pm (UTC)
Bill of Rights
I agree with the Freedom of religion and brave soles have died in war so we can have this freedom and other freedoms. I also wanted to remind you that NISD is Public entity that reports to and is governed by the State of Texas. The First Amendment of the US Constitution (First 10 Amendments is the Bill of Rights) explicitly states the freedom of religion however it also states there shall be a separation of church and state. NISD does not have to change any rules for any religion. If they do make this one exception you’ll see a downfall of society while they have to make exceptions for all religions, then we lose focus on what a school is supposed to do… educate!

Also, you are wasting taxpayer money fighting the school when that money could be used to buy new books or update the classrooms with new computers or build a new High School to educate our children.

Thanks and Good Luck!

Really!?!? Somehow, society will fall if religious freedom is allowed as it is protected by law???? Well, shit! I better start diggin’ me one of them there fancy storm cellars out on the back 40! The end of times in near!!!! Break out the drink-aid!
Whisky Tango Foxtrot.        Seriously.
Is this it? The “can of worms” I was warned about?
Ok, so I tried to respons as politely as possible. I suppose that was my mistake, you know…trying to educate those who refuse to be educated.

</em></a></em></strong></font></a>[info]stitchwitch13 ( wrote:

Jul. 8th, 2008 10:03 pm (UTC)
Re: Bill of Rights
I’m not sure I see the connection with the school district allowing students to practice their own religions and the downfall of society. Could you explain how that works? It seems that a few other Needville residents have voiced similiar concerns and the thought makes no sense. I have asked before and still not recieved a coherent answer.

The seperation of church and state pertains to the rule that public schools may not teach religion or show preference to one religion or another. They do have to make exceptions to things like dress code when the dress code restricts a students ability to attend school and still practice their religion.

I’m not wasting anyone’s money, the school district is. Perhaps if NISD students were’nt burning down their own school then they wouldn’t have to worry about rebuilding.

Ok, I’ve tried to leave last years’ well publicized arson case out of this.  Its a tragedy that a historical building was destroyed and all those tests got burned up. Luckily the school was empty when it happened but its still a shame that it did. Unfortunatly for the folks waving the “We’re proud of our rules because they make exemplary students” flag, well I’m sorry to say it but the fact that one of their own students did it, kind of negates any “proof ” that the school dress code makes perfect people out of kids.
I am in no way shape or form, wasting anyone’s money. Should the school district uphold Mr. Rhode’s ruling and this thing end up becoming a lawsuit then it i their own doing.
Anyway, sluedeke’s reply was just as irrational…
</em></a></em></strong></font></a>[info]sluedeke ( wrote:

Jul. 9th, 2008 04:14 am (UTC)
You said it
You said it:

“The separation of church and state pertains to the rule that public schools may not teach religion or show preference to one religion or another.”

If the school allows your child to attend school without cutting his hair they are showing preference to your religion by allowing him to break the rules everyone must follow no matter what their religion is.

The downfall I am talking about is when one child gets special privileges, more are going to want it, the school won’t be able to focus on educating our children, our children grow up without the education they should have been receiving if the school didn’t have to put up with all the frivolous suites.

Yup, apparently religious freedom in school really does stop children from getting an education. I’m still not getting it. Really. Remember those laser beams in my previous post on long hair? Yeah…. foil hats people, foil hats. Maybe a foil jockstrap while your at it for some added protection.
Silly me, I responded again.

</em></a></em></strong></font></a>[info]stitchwitch13 ( wrote:

Jul. 9th, 2008 01:43 pm (UTC)
Re: You said it
I can see that explaining things to you is going to be difficult.

While schools may not show preference to one religion over another, they also cannot restrict anyone’s ability to practice their own religion. Students have the right to believe how they believe and practice those beliefs as long as they do not try to push their beliefs onto other students. Its ok for students to arrange group prayer times between classes but they may not preach to others who do not want them to. Thats really the only time a school can step in when it comes to religious matters.

Your downfall theory is quite flawed. Allowing Christian children to wear crosses, Muslim girls to wear headscarves, Jewish boys to wear yarmulkes and long sideburns, Native American boys to have long hair, Sikh boys to wear turbans and long hair etc… is not going to stop anyone from getting an education.

It just might even teach all of our children tolerance.

Your theory about as much sense as only allowing blonde-haired blue-eyed folks to reproduce while systematically killing off everyone else who does not conform to some whack-jobs idea of a master race.

And got this for my trouble:
</em></strong></font></a>[info]sluedeke ( wrote:

Jul. 9th, 2008 03:13 pm (UTC)
Re: You said it
I can see that education for your child is not your priority.

So the school has a rule and you are going to teach your child all rules are made to be broken. Good Job!

I get the feeling that reading comprehension is not strong with this one. Maybe s/he missed all the other posts about how getting my son into school is what this is all about?
I don’t know any other way to explain it, sorry.
For some reason, a few people seem to think I have no respect for rules. I do in fact have a great respect for rules (as long as they make sense that its) . Rules and dress codes are put in place for a reason and when that reason is based on something intelligent, I have no problem with them. Proper footwear for safety, properly fitted clothing for modesty… yes, I agree with those.
A few people have commented on my business. Yes, I do make corsets and yes, the word “fetish” is part of my business title. Somehow I fail to see how my little custom clothing business makes me some type of criminal who should not have the freedom to raise my child as I see fit.
I’m sure a few of you would be surprised to know that I have more than one job and I do not in fact, live off the government’s money as has been suggested in an email from a crotchety old lady.
Guess what? For forty hours a week (sometimes more if needed) I wear a uniform and abide by a dress code.

Board Meeting Notice Is Up

July 8, 2008

We have requested that it be open.


Hope everyone had a nice holiday weekend. Ours was filled with a meeting,  fireworks fun, interesting mail correspondance and a photo shoot collaboration. Next weekend will be busy too with a birthday party/concert on Friday, hubby’s birthday party on Saturday and another photoshoot on Sunday. If everything goes well, somewhere in there our house should be ready for move-in.

I have 4 corsets, 2 dresses and various costume components to work on for stuff coming up in the next several days. I am very tired and need a nap.

Happy Fourth of July

July 4, 2008

 Have a happy and safe Fourth of July and enjoy the day celebrating your freedoms.  🙂

4th of july

Graphic courtesy of Karen’s Whimsy  http://karenswhimsy.com/public-domain-images/

Another day another interview….

July 3, 2008

 So yesterday was interesting. I got a phone call from my husband just before lunch time. Apaprently a news crew from Channel 13 was at the front door and wanted an interview. No phone call, no warning just hi! we’re here to talk to you about your son and the school in Needville. I came home as soon as I could and we talked with the interviewer from our ugly green couch. We had specifically not given out our address to the news agencies in order to keep some semblance of privacy. Guess thats all shot to hell now. I guess thats one of the prices we have to pay in order to get our story told.

 Anyway, here is the link to the interview and a short article to go with it.


This time Mr. Rhodes appeared in the story. It was interesting to see how his story has changed a bit since our conversations. Now according to him and the Channel 13 interview “exceptions are made for religion, but Adriel’s parents have yet to provide proof of their beliefs”.

Yup, he’s still searching for a holy book but now he is saying that they do make exceptions for other religions when twice before he stated that they did not. Just in case you missed it he said that once during our meeting on June 9th and again on June 16th during a phone conversation.

According to Mr. Rhodes he wants to find out “what recognized religion they are that discusses they cannot cut their hair…”

So now I suppose I have to figure out what recognized religion  means in order to jump through whatever made up hoops the superintendent has in mind. So off to google I go and type in “recognized religion”. The first thing that popped up was an article titled Jedi Knights achieve official recognition as a religion. Folks, I can’t make this shit up.


Yeah, I know its in the UK not the US but its still pretty *dam funny in that ironic kind of way. The next entry was another article on Jedi Knights and then google got to the good stuff.

A wiki article on Scientology and the fact that it is a recognized religion.

A website on religious tolerance where it asked “is Wicca a religion?” (It is by the way, no witch burning please.)


This particular website is really pretty interesting. I have seen it before and found it to be a pretty good source for general information on many religions. The very first paragragh has a link to this:

Native American Spirituality


There is some good information there, especially if you are curious about Native American religious beliefs. It certainly won’t tell you everything but it will give you a general idea of some of the more common beliefs.

I like this particular website a lot. It attempts to educate about many religions without being obviously biased towards one or another. I realize that it doesn’t mean squat to Mr. Rhodes of teh Needville iNdependent School District but its a good place to start for anyone interested in learning about belief systems other than their own. Check out this page if you like where it lists many religions to be explored:


Native american beliefs are listed here under this heading:

Other organized Religions

These are smaller religions, with a well defined belief in deity, humanity and the rest of the universe. Of the many hundreds of faith groups in the world, we have chosen these because of their historical significance, or because of the massive amount of misinformation that has been spread about them in North America:

Hopefully the school board will be a bit more educated and show more tolerance than Mr. Rhodes has. After all, isn’t that what we all want?




Or maybe those things are unimportant. I guess we’ll find out on July 16th.

See you in the papers.


* I know the difference between “dam” as in built by a beaver and “damn” as in eternal damnation, do you?

Fort Bend Now article.

July 1, 2008


Our story is on the Fort Bend Now website. Judging from what Mr.Rhodes is quoted as saying, it would seem that he did not pay much attention at our meeting on June 9th. Taken directly from article:

Rhodes countered that Arocha “graduated from Rosenberg, and kept his hair cut all through high school. He told me he cuts his hair for special occasions” such as on his wedding day. “And they gave the boy a choice and he said he didn’t want to cut it.”

Had Mr. Rhodes been paying attention, he would have also heard the part about how my husband had to cut his hair in kindergarten when the American Indian Religious Freedom Act was only a few years old. That act was difficult to enforce so in 1993 the Native American Free Exercise of Religion Act came to be. In 1999 the Texas Religious Freedom Act was passed further protecting the rights of all people’s religious beliefs.

So yeah, at the time when my husband was in school he didn’t get to make that choice. It was made for him by others and he was unable to grow his hair out unil he left the school system. Back then it was even more  difficult to fight for one’s religious preferences without facing discrimation and hardship. Now it is 2008 and things are different, at least……. they should be.

 Mr. Rhodes also seems to have gotten rather confused since he stated that “He told me he cuts his hair for special occasions” such as on his wedding day”. This is incorrect. He does not cut his hair for “special occassions” nor did he do so when we got married. I should know, I was there. It was braided by me.

He also seems to still be stuck on that whole “prove your religion” thing he is so adamant about. I’ll say it again; tribal affiliation and the amount of Native American DNA have nothing to do with the sincerity of our beliefs. I am so white I’m tranlucent and I still believe. You don’t have to be born into a religion in order to chose to practice the religion.

 I could quote more laws and case studies but I’m sure you get the point by now.

Oh and surprise! Cannel 13 showed up on our doorstep today unnanounced for an interview. I had to leave work early which sucked but I guess that is one of the prices one has to pay to get the word out. Still, it would have been nice if they had given us some warning. Our house looks like a tornadoe hit the inside since we are still in the middle of packing and getting it ready to sell. Thats life I guess.

One more thing, I don’t know if he’ll say it this time when he speaks with Channel 13 but on two other occassions Mr. Rhodes has stated that my husband is Baptist. I’m not sure where he gets that idea from since he was told at the meeting that he was raised Catholic and I was Presbyterian but whatever.




June 30, 2008

 There have been some questions and comments that I’ve seen on some of the places where our fight is being discussed online as well as have been asked to me in person.  I will try to address all of them here so that maybe the questions won’t get too repetitive. I don’t mind questions so if your curious about something and it is not answered here, feel free to ask. Questions and answers are how we learn.

Comment: You’re just doing this for attention. “Cut the civil rights crap”.

Answer: Well yes, I am. I am trying to bring attention to the fact that the NISD thinks it is ok to deny the right of religious freedom to their students. I think it is important that people know about it. If I wanted “attention” just for myself I’d pick something a bit easier and less stressful like naked chainsaw juggling.

Question: I saw the news interview and his dad’s hair is not all that long…

Answer: No, his hair is not as long as it might be if he had never had it cut. Adriel’s father had to cut his hair when he started school and keep it short. He went to school in Rosenberg (near Needville) so he is familiar with this type of thing. He has been growing it out for the last ten years.

Question: Why don’t you put him in a private school/homeschool him/move to a school district that will allow him to keep his hair without a fight?

Answer: Private schooling, home schooling or moving away does not solve the problem. It only tells our son that his rights are not worth fighting for and it tells the school district that its OK for them to keep infringing on the civil rights of their students. I suppose it would be easier but sometimes the right way is not the easy way.

Question: Aren’t you worried that teachers and other students will be hostile to your child?

Answer: Yes I am worried. Not everyone will agree with us and their opinions will be fed to their children who may in turn make things difficult for my son.  Unfortunatly that is life.  Parents teach their children their own values and if bigotry is one of them, it gets gets passed down too. Luckily, some children grow up and realize that intolerance is wrong and adjust their own values accordingly.

Plenty of children have had to deal with unpleasant school experiences. When school segregation was ended it was not easy for those children either.

Question: Is his hair religious or cultural?

Answer: It is both. Native Americans have many spiritual beliefs. So many that their spirituality and their customs are many times one and the same. There are beliefs associated with hair, the most commonly known is that your hair is a measure of how long you have been here and what you have experienced. It is a record of your life.

Internet searches and books on Native American religious practices will not give you much in the way of a thorough education on the subject. So much of Native American culture has been bastardized that very few people are willing to share all of their beliefs and traditions. They have been reduced to team mascots and the bad guys in old westerns so it is understandable that they do not wish to share their religious customs with everyone.

Question: Are’nt you worried about what your neighbors/other area citizens will think?

Answer: No. I’m not interested in popularity. Its fine if not everyone agrees with us and I understand that many people will not.

Question: What tribe and are you a registered member?

Answer: Lipan Apache and no, not at this time.

Proof of tribal affiliation or even DNA percentage of Indian blood is not the issue in this case even though we offered DNA proof to the superintendent. The law does not require that we prove any of this, only that our belief is “sincere”.

I am just your average run of the mill white woman of german and scotch-irish descent yet I sincerely believe that my son’s hair is very important to my family’s belief system. Other than trimming split ends, I have not cut my own hair in many years.

 I think that about covers everything but I will add to this if there are more questions or comments that need to be addressed.

The appeal forms have been sent in and the date for our appeal meeting is July 16th at the regular monthly school board meeting.



The KPFT interview and my book came in!

June 27, 2008



My husband was interviewd this morning on the KPFT radio station in Houston. If you missed it but want a chance to hear what was said, go here:


Look for the People of Earth segment for Friday June 27th at 11 am. We have another interview scheduled tomorrow for a local paper.

 My book came in the mail yesterday and I’ve already filled it with highlighter marks and paperclips. The Educator’s Guide to Texas School Law  (6th edition) by Jim Walsh, Frank Kemerer and Laurie Maniotis is a really good resource. There is a 2007 update that I need to get that goes with it but I am reading this one right now.

 I think this is a great book for anyone with school age children in Texas as well as teachers and school administrators. It explains the laws in plain english instead of “legalese” and gives several examples of cases that have been important in establishing certain things. My favorite part so far is in chapter seven where they discuss the Texas Religious Freedom Act or TRFA that was passed in 1999.

 On page 288 it says:

Codified as Civil Practices and Remedies Code 110.001-110.012, TRFA provides that a governmental agency may not “substantially burden a person’s free exercise of religion” unless it can establish a “compelling governmental interest” that is the “least restrictive means of furthering that interest”. The term “free exercise of religion” is defined to mean an act or refusal to act that is substantially motivated by sincere religious belief. The law does not require that the act or refusal to act must be linked to a central part or requirement of the person’s faith, only that it be “sincere”. This has the effect of conveying broad support for religiously motivated behavior. At the same time, the burden is heavy on government to justify its actions that substantially burden such behaviors.

 I think it should be pretty obvious by now that Adriel’s father and I are pretty damn sincere when it comes to our beliefs. Hopefully the school board will see that when we speak with them at the appeal. With the laws that we have in place to protect religious freedoms, I surprised that it has been this much trouble to have my son allowed to go to school.