There has been widespread anger after news that a 12-year-old Rastafarian boy faces suspension due to his hairstyle.
Chikayzea, a student at Fulham Boys School (FBS), has been told he needs to cut his dreadlocks to adhere to the school’s strict uniform and appearance policy.
Tuesday Flanders, the young boy’s mother who follows the Rastafarian faith, says the school’s demand is religious discrimination and an attack on her culture.
Fulham Boys School, in Mund Street, is handling the case as a social issue rather than a religious one. The school even put Chikayzea in isolation on 11 September because of his hair.
Flanders said she tied her son’s hair up so that it did not breach policy on length. However, she received a call on his first day at school last this September saying that it must be cut.
‘He has dreadlocked hair because he is a Rastafarian. His hair does come down below his shoulder which is why I tied it up on his first day at school,’ she said.
‘They can’t expect me to cut my son’s hair. It’s our faith, it’s our religion, our culture.’
She hoped a meeting with headteacher Alun Ebenezer would sort out the problem. ‘I explained that it’s our religion and culture and it’s not fashion for us, it’s not something we take lightly’, she said.
‘But I was told at the end of the day they have a policy of no dreadlocks at the school.’
She said the whole episode was upsetting Chikayzea, adding: ‘No school should be able to dictate things like that. It can never be right. It’s a human right. This is a child that goes to school to learn, not for fashion.’
Mr Ebenezer described FBS as a ‘strict academic school’ with ‘very distinctive ethos and culture’ and pupils from different cultures and religions.
He said: “Boys have to conform to uniform and appearance policy. Boys are told to cut their hair or grow their hair. All boys need to follow and adhere to the school policy”.