Students suspended over hair
By Rosalind Carr
MELBOURNE — Over the past few weeks, several Melbourne secondary schools have challenged their students' right to education because of the length or colour of their hair.
The media have focused on the indefinite suspension of two boys from the private Girton Grammar in Bendigo. The boys were sent home for breaching the school's uniform and grooming policy, which stipulates that boys' hair must not hang lower than their collar.
The principal of the school said that the two boys had not been suspended but were "on leave by their choice". He also denied that the school had threatened to expel one of the boys after he went to the media. Both boys have lodged complaints with the Equal Opportunity Board. Any ruling by the board may set a national precedent for grooming codes in non-denominational schools.
At Canterbury Girls, a state school, students with hair that is dyed "unnatural" colours have been threatened with indefinite suspensions. The administration have denied these claims, but a group of students insist that threats have been used against them.
There is no rule that states that students may not have dyed hair. Teachers are therefore enforcing, not school policy, but their own prejudices. In any case, it is not the colour or length of your hair which determines whether you get a good education but the quality of the environment in which you learn.
Students must be aware of their rights at school; otherwise acts of discrimination will continue.
[Rosalind Carr is a student at Canterbury Girls and a member of Resistance.]