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A black student challenges ban on “cornrow” hairstyles

Braids of great importance to cultural and racial identity

13th May 2011: A London school may soon find itself in dock, as a student is taking the institute to the High Court challenging the ban on "cornrows" hairstyles.
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Describing the ban as unlawful, the black child aged 12 at the time of the incident claims he was barred from St Gregory’s Catholic Science College in Harrow, north London, due to his "cornrows" haircut. Now 13, he is attending another school.

His mother said for the child, the braids were "of great importance to his cultural and racial identity".

The school, on the other hand, has maintained hairstyles could be very well be for gang identity.

The institute argued cornrows were not regarded gang-related, but added permitting  them would make it tougher for them to keep out other styles, such as the skinhead cut.

Family’s counsel David Wolfe QC, however, insisted the school’s position was legally flawed and argued the stance was in violation of  both race and sex discrimination laws as girls at the school are allowed to support cornrows.

The boy’s solicitor, Angela Jackman of law firm Maxwell Gillott Solicitors, issued a statement saying the school relies on its view of what constitutes a conventional hairstyle for boys, but disregards the cultural values and norms of the community it serves.

The blanket policy breaches current equality legislation, specifically on race and gender grounds.

The school, in court, was described as highly successful, hugely oversubscribed institution achieving excellent results, including from its black pupils. Currently, the school is yet to set out its case in detail.

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