Judge says ban on hairstyle is 'racial discrimination'
Published 18/06/2011 | 05:00
A London school racially discriminated against a pupil by banning him for braiding his hair, the high court has concluded in a landmark ruling.
The judgment immediately provoked criticism from head teachers, who claimed it would erode discipline because they would be unable to set standards for the appearance and uniform of pupils.
The boy was turned away from St Gregory's Catholic Science College, Harrow, on his first day because his cornrow hairstyle breached school rules designed to curb gang culture.
But a High Court judge, Mr Justice Collins, ruled yesterday that the school had subjected the Afro-Caribbean teenager to "unlawful, indirect racial discrimination" by excluding him.
The judge said the law also applied to pupils with dreadlocks and Sikh pupils with long hair.
The boy's mother brought the case claiming that her son's hairstyle was "of great importance to his cultural and racial identity".
Mr Justice Collins said the school had breached equality laws because it had imposed its hairstyle policy "without the possibility of exception".
Teaching leaders and ministers warned that the ruling would lead to similar claims and undermine head teachers' ability to improve behaviour. ( © Daily Telegraph, London)