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School hair policies could be unlawful, study finds

HAIR DISCRIMINATION: School policies towards afro hair could become unlawful

ONE IN six children with Afro-textured hair are having a bad or very bad experience at school, according to a report from World Afro Day.

Supported by researchers at De Montfort University, the report – which surveyed 1,000 respondents of black adults or any parent of children with Afro hair – ascertained that many school policies could even be unlawful.

There are growing concerns about school policies, with the report showing a 66.7 per cent rise in negative hair policies towards afro hair.

From the one in six children, 46 per cent had issues with hair policies compared with just 27 per cent of adults saying it was an issue, when
they were at school.

Melanie Field, executive director at the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said: “Any policy which impacts disproportionately on pupils with particular protected characteristics is likely to be unlawful, unless it can be shown to be necessary.”

Currently neither the Department of Education nor Ofsted monitor hair policies so there is no official verdict. World Afro Day is calling for school hair policies to be independently monitored and unlawful policies to be axed.

CONSEQUENCES

There is also a need to amend the 2010 Equality Act to further protect Afro hair in society, WAD claims.

Founder Michelle De Leon said: “There has been an overwhelming need to evidence the consequences of hair discrimination not just in individual cases but also quantitative research to look at the school system.

“The findings reveal that black and mixed-race children are under constant pressure to fit into a school and a society that doesn’t understand or value their Afro hair type. This has been a generational burden that needs to be lifted.”

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