Black students say they are being penalized for their hair, and experts say every student is worse off because of it

(CNN)High school senior Asia Simo loves being a cheerleader. In her final year, she even gave up soccer -- another sport she played -- to focus solely on what mattered to her the most: cheering.

But with just eight games left in this year's season, the 17-year-old was suddenly kicked off the team after three years at Captain Shreve High School in Louisiana. The reason? Her hair, her family says, which was too thick for the "half up, half down" standard the team required for a number of games. Asia accumulated demerits for having her hair out of uniform, which led to her eventual dismissal, despite not being an issue in previous years, her mother Rosalind Calloway told CNN.
Asia's story is part of a larger trend across the US, where more and more black students say they are being penalized for their hair.
    The problem lies in the policies, experts say, which don't necessarily take into account an increasingly diverse student body, to the detriment of mostly black and biracial schoolchildren.

    These rules hurt every student, even if it's unintentional

    Similar incidents have happened across the country: in Kentucky; in Louisiana; in New Jersey; in Texas. And those are just incidents from the last few years that attracted social media attention and were reported in the news.
    Just this year, high school senior DeAndre Arnold was told he couldn't walk at graduation unless he cut his dreadlocks. His case captured the attention of Gabrielle Union, Alicia Keys and even Ellen DeGeneres -- who personally asked the school district to reconsider.
    Most school administrators cite policies and regulations as reason -- and rules are rules, after all.
    But the rules are culturally insensitive, Calloway told CNN.
    "(Asia's school wasn't) sensitive enough to the fact that everyone's hair doesn't automatically transform to be put in a particular style," Calloway said. "It wasn't a style that was accommodating for all of the girls."
    Extracurricular activities are governed by constitutions "reviewed annually by a diverse team with feedback from students," said Caddo Parish Public Schools -- the district Captain Shreve High School is a part of -- in a statement to CNN. Neither the district nor the school could speak to Asia's case specifically.
    "In no such instance, is a single incident or factor cause for dismissal," the statement read. "Instead, students are provided every opportunity to learn from their experiences and to be a part of the team unless they show a consistent pattern of failing to comply with the affirmed guidelines."
    Lily Eskelsen García is the president of the National Education Association, the largest teacher union in the country. She's also a sixth-grade teacher in Utah, and she agrees with Calloway that the rules aren't always inclusive.
    When asked about how these rules come about, she said it comes down to a misconception about what's "normal" and what's not. Dreadlocks, braids, hair texture, hijabs, and so on? Those things are not "normal."
    "'Normal' looked like a white child's hair, and everything else is not normal," García said. Though it may not have been intended as an attack on racial or ethnic differences -- she pointed out that in Utah, it came about as a result of multi-colored and spiked hair during the punk years in the 1980s -- that's what these rules have become.
    "It really is an attack on the culture that these children bring into their schools," she said. "You're saying the way you and your family dress, the way you and your family ... wear your hair, is wrong."
    These mindsets, García continued, have detrimental effects for every student in classrooms.
    For students limited by these policies, who are told they don't fit the "norm," it could open them up to bullying or make them question their self-worth, García said.
    After being dismissed from the team, Asia was hurt, Calloway said. For a while, she didn't even want to cheerlead anymore.
    Andrew Johnson -- a high school wrestler in New Jersey who cut his dreadlocks during a match and