Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 May 2015

Hair to stay... dad vows to fight the ban

Ulster family in refusal to budge after pupil suspended for having long locks

The father of a 15-year-old boy suspended from an Ulster school because his hair was too long last night vowed to take the matter to court.

George Stranaghan (45) from Rathcoole in Newtownabbey claims his son, Grant, is being discriminated against because of his long hair style.

Grant is a year 11 pupil at Ballyclare High and is currently studying for seven GCSEs.

However, last week Grant was suspended for three days because his shoulder length hair flouted the school rules.

Since September he has had numerous detentions because of his hair - which he still refuses to cut.

Mr Stranaghan believes his son should not have to conform to what he deems draconian regulations.

The 45-year-old historian and Loughside Football Club coach said: "Grant is a great wee lad. We have never had any problems with him at all. In 12 years at school there has been nothing. His attendance at school is exemplary.

"He is just a normal lad. He is into that type of music, rock music where they all have long hair. He is very quiet and doesn't bother anyone."

Grant's hair is two inches below his collar - a breach of the school rules which state boy's hair must be above the collar. Added Mr Stranaghan: " I don't think two inches of hair should affect 12 years of education. Why should he have to cut his hair? I can't make him get his hair cut.

"What am I supposed to do, hold him down or go in with a pair of scissors when he is asleep?

"We did take him to get it cut but it wasn't enough and he was really annoyed at having to get it cut up to the length it is. He doesn't want to cut it any more. He has offered to tie it back in a pony tail but they are having none of it.

"It's against every law in the land to make him do something he doesn't want to."

But Mr Stranaghan said: "I'll take this the whole way. They are breaking every rule in British law, European law and in terms of gender law."

In a statement released yesterday Ballyclare High School principal, David Knox, said: "A pupil was suspended under the School's Discipline policy for repeated and persistent breaches of the school rules.

" This action is unusual in this school where there is a high level of co-operation from our pupils. The suspension was for three days only and was imposed only after all other sanctions had failed to prompt a positive response.

"The pupil has now returned to school. I had hoped to discuss the way forward with his parents, but they declined to meet me this morning, Monday, November 26 to discuss the matter and have declined to meet me tomorrow morning.

"The school has at all times attempted to be reasonable while implementing the policies of the Board of Governors who represent parents, teachers and the community."

A text poll on yesterday's Nolan Show on BBC Radio Ulster revealed that 69% of listeners thought Grant should cut his hair and get on with doing his GCSEs.

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