An Australian public school has changed its rule against facial hair after a 12-year-old Hindu boy who was developing a mustache was told to shave it off, handed a razor, and cut himself in the process. Furthermore, shaving is considered a rite of passage of sorts in the Hindu culture, making this situation even worse.
Now Mansfield State High School is making sure that never happens again — and they’re struggling to explain why it happened at all. [Note from Hemant: Indian boys develop mustaches early. (Trust me.) I can’t even imagine trying to shave it myself without proper guidance the first time around.]
When a school official gave the child a razor and told him to “just swipe down,” he ended up cutting his face in three places and bleeding on his school shirt.
“He said he was made to shave and he had blood over his face,” the boy’s father said.
“I said that is not possible; I was shocked because I didn’t expect that from the school or anyone, to be honest.
“We have taught him that when a teacher asks him to do something, just to do it and he has done it — and that has fallen back on us.”
The boy missed out on a swimming carnival a few days later when the cuts became infected and required antibiotics, his father said.
The boy’s father was right to be surprised and upset. Not only did the school needlessly lead to his son getting injured, the family missed out on a sacred ritual that was meaningful for them.
While the wounds had since healed, his father said his family missed an important part of his son’s childhood.
“We are a Hindu family and the tradition is that when a child gets to the age when he is required to shave… then the father says a little prayer with him and we bless him and you give him a gift and a token of love and off they go — that is the tradition,” he said.
“It is a small thing in terms of the whole ceremony thing but it is important to every family.
Forget the “token of love.” The 12-year-old received cuts and embarrassment. At least the school has since changed its ridiculous policy.
In a letter dated July 19, the department’s deputy regional director of Metropolitan region Jeff Major told the family:
“In 2019, Mansfield State High School will ensure that no student will be permitted to shave at school unless explicit parent consent is obtained. Explicit consent in this instance will require direct parent contact with the school administration by phone, email or in writing.”
The boy’s father said he was pleased with the outcome.
“After months, they’ve changed the policy which means now parents must give consent, which is fantastic, that’s all I wanted.
This issue has been resolved for this family, but there are still some lasting effects. The father says the boy now shaves every day, suggesting that he’s now self-conscious about his facial hair. He’s only 12. For the sake of other children, let’s hope other schools learn from this mistake.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Brian for the link)