Mother urges schools to stop forcing boys to cut long hair as it is 'discriminatory’

'It does affect a lot of boys of colour. It is more of a cultural thing,' parent says

Eleanor Busby
Education Correspondent
Tuesday 14 January 2020 16:37 GMT
Mum calls for schools to stop making boys cut their hair

A mother of an eight-year-old child — who has become an Instagram star thanks to his long hair — has launched a campaign to stop schools from forcing boys to cut their locks as she says it discriminates against black children.

Bonnie Miller, from Fulham in west London, said she let her son Farouk James grow his afro-textured hair for cultural reasons and it has become a significant part of his identity.

But the child model, who has more than 269,000 followers on Instagram, could be made to cut it off if he secures a place at one of three local faith secondary schools, which require short hair as part of their uniform.

Ms Miller has launched a petition calling on the government to restrict schools from applying “out of date” rules on boys’ hair length as she claims they discriminate on the grounds of gender and race.

It comes after teachers and campaigners warned that schools are unfairly punishing black students for their hairstyles, including braids, amid a growth in strict behaviour and uniform policies.

Speaking to The Independent about policies in schools that ban boys from having long hair, Ms Miller said: “It is a race issue. It does affect a lot of boys of colour more than other races.

“They tend to have longer hair. It is more of a cultural thing.”

One school Ms Miller is hoping to apply to says boys’ hair should not be “too long”, but girls are allowed long hair if it is tied back. “That comes under the umbrella of sexism,” she said.

“Why can you say a boy has to have short hair and a girl is allowed to have long hair? It is prejudice,” she told The Independent.

Ms Miller added: “It is the same as girls having to wear skirts. Why should they have to wear skirts to school? I think the rules should be the same across the board for boys and girls.”

The petition has already been signed by more than 1,500 people — and Ms Miller said she plans to protest outside the Houses of Parliament to encourage a rule change on long hair being banned in schools.

The mother of Farouk James is worried her son will be forced to cut his hair at secondary school

“This is what I am going to be fighting for. I am not going to stop. I have parents who are going to join me in this battle,” she warned.

In 2018, Fulham Boys School told a pupil, who was originally banned from the school because of his dreadlocks, that he could return without having to cut his hair following legal action.

Chikayzea Flanders was told he would have to cut off his dreadlocks or face suspension. But his mother took the school to court as she said it was an attack on her Rastafarian religion.

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