08.12.2021

London girls’ school just became The Halo Code, pledging against Black hair discrimination

On Thursday, Sutton High School took an active stand against race-based hair discrimination by adopting the code, which promises members of the Black community the “freedom and security to wear all afro-hairstyles without restriction or judgement”.

It means that they will review their uniform policy and find better ways for girls to embrace their natural hair when they have lessons like PE or swimming.

Founded by young Black organisers of The Advocacy Academy, The Halo Code is a pledge taken by employers and schools to protect students and staff who come to school with natural hair and protective hairstyles associated with their racial, ethnic, and cultural identities.

A private girls’ school in southwest London is the first in the UK to sign The Halo Code.

It’s a huge milestone for the collective of women who launched their mission to end hair inequality only a few months ago and are now helping to shape school policies.

The collective describes it as: “An invitation to embrace Black people and their hair in all of its forms, whether that be locs, fades, wigs, cornrows and much more.

“It is a recognition that there is no one way to style afro-textured hair, and that each way is an important part of Black people’s identity.”

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In the UK, over half of Black students have experienced name-calling or uncomfortable questions about their hair in school and 46% of parents blame their children’s school policy*.

Race-based hair discrimination has been illegal in the UK since the Equality Act 2010, however, there have been many cases where it was argued that the Act has not been adequately applied in UK schools.

In 2017, 12-year-old Chikayzea Flanders was told that his dreadlocks did not comply with his Fulham boys’ school’s uniform and appearance policy.

His mother argued that the hairstyle was a reflection of the family’s Rastafarian beliefs and not a fashion statement.

Only last year, five-year-old Josiah Sharpe was penalised for wearing a fade that the school deemed an ‘extreme’ haircut.

And earlier this year, 18-year-old Ruby Williams received an £8,500 out-of-court settlement after taking legal action against her Hackney school.

The student was repeatedly sent home for “breaching school policy” that stipulated “afro style hair must be of reasonable size and length”.

*The Good Hair Study by Perception Institute The Hair Equality Report by World Afro Day De Montfort University

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