Following the Ministry of Education’s scrapping of the ban on hairstyles in schools in 2005, students should step forward and challenge any unreasonable restrictions on hair length and style imposed by their schools, the Humanistic Education Foundation said in an open letter to students yesterday.
Foundation secretary Shih Yi-hsin (施宜昕) said that while the ban on elementary and junior-high school students’ hairstyles — introduced by the ministry in 1969 — had long been lifted, the number of complaints the foundation had received regarding such restrictions was on the rise.
“A survey conducted last year showed that about 73 percent of students polled said their schools continued to conduct routine inspections of their hairstyles, while 47 percent of respondents said students whose hairstyles failed to meet certain criteria are disciplined,” Shih said.
Several schools have also continued the longstanding practice of having drillmasters and teachers conduct a hair checkup at school entrances or during morning assemblies, Shih said.
Students who do not pass the checkups are asked to “fix” their hair. These “fixes” include dying the hair back to a natural color, removing hair accesories, or trimming the length of the hair.
“Schools should refrain from placing any restrictions on students’ hairstyles given that the lifting of the hairstyle ban — along with the abolition of martial law in 1987 and the easing of a ban on newspapers in 1988 — are democratic milestones that facilitated the nation’s breakaway from an era marked by mind control,” Shih said.
In addition to challenging hairstyle restrictions, Shih said students could choose to initiate dialogues with school authorities and seek external assistance.