New guidelines announced today will prevent hair discrimination in UK schools

New guidelines announced today will prevent hair discrimination in UK schools

October 27, 2022

Today, 27 October, is World Afro Day, and it marks the news that pupils will no longer be stopped from wearing their hair in natural afro styles. 

Today marks World Afro Day, and its founders are pleased to announce a huge milestone in the fight against hair discrimination.

In new guidelines published today by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), pupils should not be stopped from wearing their hair in natural afro styles at school. It says that any existing uniform and appearance policies that ban certain hairstyles, without the possibility for exceptions to be made on racial grounds, are likely to be unlawful. 

That includes natural afro hairstyles, cornrows, plaits and head coverings among other styles.

Historic court cases, research and personal experience of World Afro Day’s stakeholders indicates that hair-based discrimination disproportionately impacts girls and boys with afro-textured hair or hairstyles. That can include anything from describing somebody’s hairstyle as inappropriate through to outright bans on certain styles. However, it likely comes as no surprise to hear that many of those who’ve been directly affected say that schools lack understanding about afro hair and the care it needs.

As a result, the EHRC has a range of new resources – which have been endorsed by both World Afro Day and the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Race Equality in Education – that aim to help educate and ensure hair or hairstyle policies are not unlawfully discriminatory.

“Contributing to the new EHRC resources has been an important step towards ending hair discrimination, which many children with afro hair experience on a daily basis,” says Michelle De Leon, founder and CEO of World Afro Day. 

“Our work supporting families, protecting children and educating school leaders shows that this extra guidance is needed. We hope that these resources will be an effective tool to clarify equality law for teachers and help shift the bias against afro hair that has become ingrained in some parts of the education system,” she adds.

Hair discrimination isn’t something that just impacts children, but grown adults too. Stylist has always been at the forefront, fighting for change at every level – and back in 2017 we launched the Hair Equality initiative. The campaign urged hair salons to treat and represent every woman, no matter hair type or texture – and at no extra cost.

While progress has been made, there is still a long way to go, but these new guidelines are another step in the right direction.

Main image: Getty

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