Equality Watchdog Shares Guidance for Schools on Afro Hair

Published 04th Nov 2022 by Josie Jackson

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has recently shared guidance that those with afro-textured hair should not be prevented from wearing natural hairstyles at school. The watchdog explained: "Uniform and appearance policies that ban certain hairstyles, without the possibility for exceptions to be made on racial grounds, are likely to be unlawful." However, it is worth noting that the guidance will not affect government policy, but is intended to help prevent hair-based discrimination. The EHRC further explained: "Race is a protected characteristic under the 2010 Equality Act, which means a person must not be discriminated against because of their hair or hairstyle if it is associated with their race or ethnicity. "This includes natural Afro hairstyles, braids, cornrows, plaits and head coverings, amongst other styles." New resources, endorsed by World Afro Day and the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Race Equality in Education, have been released, including:

  • Guidance on stopping hair discrimination, with practical examples for schools on when a policy may be discriminatory, based on real-life experiences.
  • A decision-making tool to help school leaders to draft and review their policies
  • An animated video to raise awareness of indirect race discrimination in schools and what should be done to prevent it

Jacqui Mcintosh, Specialist in Texture Management and European Director of Education for Avlon UK, shared her thoughts on the news to HJ, explaining: "Children of colour in many cases do not enter the education arena as equals to their Caucasian counterparts; from an early age you are often told that because of how others see you, you have to work twice as hard and carry yourself a certain way in order to fit in and not be penalised - which, frankly, is draining and wrong on all sides. "I celebrate the children that had the nerve to push back on this discrimination, as I didn’t and many of my generation suffered in silence. Within African and Afro Caribbean communities, there is a rich history in the adornment of natural Afro hair due to the history of our ancestors and the fact that women of colour were never allowed to see themselves as beautiful. "In the 21st-century, it is important to be able to embrace our natural hair in our own way without criticism or being penalised. I think it’s important that this policy has been put in place, however I think it’s equally important that schools are supported with the knowledge and understanding required to support the young learners entering their schools. The policy is one element, but it’s the general attitude that needs to be observed. The adornment of hair means different things to different cultures, and all hair heritage needs to be respected as in many cases there is a deep history attached."

Josie Jackson

Josie Jackson

Published 04th Nov 2022

Josie supports the team with content for the print magazine, website and social media channels at HJ. Having grown up in a salon environment (thanks to her hairdresser mum) and even working as a Saturday girl before getting her degree in English Literature, Josie feels right at home in the industry. Although she’s experimented with a few creative colour looks in the past, she always comes back to blonde, and loves all things hydrating and bond building.

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