As a sophomore running back and defensive back from Central Catholic, JD Younger has already made an impact on the field, helping the Vikings to a 2019 WPIAL championship. This winter, he’s making waves off the field, as well.
Younger has started a petition to protest what he claims is a racially biased hair policy at Central Catholic High School. According to Younger, the school prohibits “hairstyles with designs, patterns, lines, weaves, spikes, braids, locks, twists, or ponytails are not permitted.”
“When we came back from summer break, my friend had a twist in,” Younger told Pittsburgh Sports Now. “He was told to take them out. That was what made me think about it. I feel like they were really tying to take something away from us. … As African Americans, that’s our roots.”
A high school student protesting a part of his or her school’s dress code isn’t exactly groundbreaking territory, but the reaction to Younger’s petition has been. The online petition at change.org has been signed over 70,000 times as of Monday morning, which has blown away Younger’s expectations.
“I thought I was going to get 100, 200 signatures,” he said. “Something like 60,000? I was shocked. I was overwhelmed.”
The additional attention and support has given Younger even more faith that his stance is the correct one.
“For sure,” he said. “I knew this was the right thing before I even started this, though. I knew something had to change.”
Younger says the football team at Central Catholic is “100%” behind him in his quest to change the rule, and star junior defensive lineman Elliot Donald has been a vocal supporter on social media.
“My friend Elliot Donald wants it changed right now,” Younger said. “We’re basically rallying to get it changed right now. … We’re trying to get this changed now and not wait until next school year.”
Whether or not the rules gets changed in the near future or at all, Younger hopes that by finding his voice to stand up for an issue that was important to him, he can inspire others.
“I feel like this is encouraging people to speak out more for something that’s not right,” Younger said. “My mom always told me to speak out about something that’s not right and I did that. I definitely hope I can encourage others to do the same.”