12-year-old Chikayzea Flanders from West London was forced into isolation when he went to Fulham Boys School with his hair in dreadlocks. He was asked to shave off his dreadlocks if he wished to attend classes as it went against the school’s uniform policy.
Funded by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, his lawyers criticized the stringent uniform policy and argued dreadlocks represented a fundamental part of the Rastafarian beliefs.
Therefore, the Church of England free school in West London has backed down and admitted to indirect discrimination. This move may also force other schools to lift their ban on the particular hairstyle.
The school will also have to pay the family’s litigation costs and reach a settlement with the 12-year-old boy and his mom, Tuesday Flanders.
The Governors’ Complaints Resolution Committee also ordered to review the uniform policy to make sure that more equality and diversity training is given to all staff members.
Even though Chikayzea left the school after a month to attend to a local academy, Fulham Boys School announced that he will always be welcome to return, provided that his dreadlocks are tied up and not touching the top of his collar.
His mother, Tuesday Flanders, said: “As parents we place our trust in schools and teachers to help mould our children’s lives through education, but that should never place restrictions on their identity or their ability to express their religious beliefs.
We are grateful to the Equality and Human Rights Commission and Steel & Shamash Solicitors for their support and would like to make sure that communities know that their identity and religious beliefs matter and they cannot be forced to change these to access education.”
Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission David Isaac said: “At the heart of this issue is a young boy who is entitled to express his religious beliefs and access an education.
We are pleased that the school has acknowledged their failings in this instance and has agreed to revise its policies.
We funded this case because no child should be prevented from attending their chosen school because of inflexible uniform policies that discriminate against children on the basis of their race or religious beliefs.”
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