A teacher at the Bentleigh Secondary College in Victoria, Australia reportedly ordered 16-year-old South Sudanese twin students to remove their braids because they “didn’t represent the school.”
The twins, identified only as Grace and Tahbisa, were also removed from class last week and asked to stay away until they had removed their braids. However, they defied the order, saying that this amounted to discrimination against them. Speaking to local media, Grace said: “We were told that our hair doesn’t represent the school. It was a real shock. It’s not a problem and it doesn’t affect our education. They are asking us to look like everyone else.”
The school’s principal, Helene Hiotis, later released a statement saying the school is open to allowing the twins to express their cultural heritage.
She added: “The family has been offered a school uniform exemption. We will work with them on this so the girls can wear their new braided hairstyle to school.”
Similar restrictions on African hair also emerged in South Africa last year following protests at a girl’s school in Pretoria, South Africa, where the girls said the school forced them to straighten or remove their natural hair.