School uniform policies need to accommodate students’ informative practices
July 26, 2017 - School Uniform
Can a propagandize levy a uniform process that does not take into comment a student’s eremite or informative beliefs and practices? This is an emanate now being deliberate by a Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).
Sagardeep Singh Arora, on interest of his five-year-old son Sidhak Singh Arora, is severe Melton Christian College’s preference not to enrol his son unless he agrees not to wear his patka, a Sikh conduct covering.
Despite being a Christian school, Melton Christian College accepts children of all faiths “as prolonged as they don’t wear wardrobe that promotes other religions”. Its settled reason for a position is it doesn’t “want children station out as different”.
Protections for leisure of sacrament in Australia are notoriously weak. The Victorian Equal Opportunities Act prohibits taste on a basement of a person’s religion, though also grants a far-reaching grant for schools in propinquity to uniforms. Section 42(1) states:
An educational management might set and make reasonable standards of dress, coming and poise for students.
This is competent by Section 42(2), that states:
In propinquity to a school, though tying a generality of what constitutes a reasonable customary of dress, coming or behaviour, a customary contingency be taken to be reasonable if a educational management administering a propagandize has taken into comment a views of a propagandize village in environment a standard.
Earlier this year, a Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights commissioner, Kristen Hilton, commented on cases where schools were refusing to concede students to wear their hair in braids, even when finished so for informative reasons. She said:
There is a transparent disproportion between students who have had their hair in braids for their whole life and whose braid connects them to their culture, and students who have gotten braids or cornrows on an abroad holiday.
The principal of Melton Christian College, David Gleeson, has unsuccessful to pull a eminence between headwear ragged for reasons of conform and Sikh headwear ragged for reasons of faith. He has been reported as sketch an analogy between Sidhak’s patka and a tyro who wished to wear a New Balance cap though was not authorised to do so.
The patka is a smaller chronicle of a turban, or dastar, ragged by many Sikh men. It is an critical essay of faith. It therefore forms an critical partial of a Sikh child’s identity. It is not simply a square of clothing.
An analogy might also be drawn with a UK case in that a Muslim tyro challenged a preference of Denbigh High School to demarcate her from wearing a form of Islamic dress famous as a jilbab. While a House of Lords was separate on either a propagandize uniform process had infringed a student’s eremite freedoms, all concluded there were pardonable drift for doing so.
Female Muslim students during Denbigh High School were available to wear a shalwar kameez, an choice form of Islamic dress. The propagandize had concluded on this accommodation for a Muslim students in conference with a internal community. The school’s aim in requiring correspondence with a uniform process was to foster amicable congruity in a multicultural, multi-faith school.
On a one hand, a Denbigh High School box supports Melton Christian College’s position. Like Denbigh High, a settled aim of a uniform process is inclusivity – ensuring particular students “don’t mount out”.
On a other hand, Denbigh High had already sought to accommodate a needs of a Muslim students in conference with a internal village – something it appears Melton Christian College has not finished for a Sikh students.
It will be for a VCAT to establish either a uniform process of Melton Christian College falls within a exceptions postulated by Section 42. However, either a process is authorised is arguably not a point. In a religiously diverse, multicultural society, a opinion taken by a propagandize is unhelpful.
The school’s principal is reported to have commented that:
I consider one of a genuine strengths of a college is that we’re blind to … everybody is blind to eremite affiliations.
This is identical to a colour-blind proceed to racism. The problem with this proceed is that it does not accommodate or acknowledge difference, it simply pretends it’s not there. Refusing to acknowledge Sidhak’s Sikh faith, and refusing to concede him to acknowledge it, does not meant it’s not there.
Similarly, a school’s explain that a process is neutral is equally unhelpful.
The problem with neutrality is that it tends usually to in fact be neutral for a majority. It is usually those from minority groups that are asked to compromise. Equality does not always equal equity.
A process requiring all students to take a stairs is neutral, nonetheless has a disastrous impact on students who use a wheelchair. Similarly, a propagandize uniform process that prevents students from wearing any form of headwear is neutral – though it has a disastrous impact on Sikh, Muslim and Jewish students.
Providing some form of accommodation for Sidhak, and other students in a identical position, does not need Melton Christian College to desert a uniform policy. The students can still be compulsory to approve with all other aspects of it. The propagandize could also place mandate on students’ eremite dress in terms of colour and fit with a existent uniform.
The propagandize could demeanour to a instance set by a Victoria and Western Australian military in anticipating ways to accommodate both a Sikh turban and Islamic hijab within their existent uniform policies.