BBC NEWS | Northern Ireland | Fury as long-haired son suspended
Tuesday, 27 November 2007,
A 15-year-old rock music fan suspended from school for refusing to cut his long hair says he will not back down.
Grant Stranaghan, a GCSE student at Ballyclare High, was suspended for three days last week for having collar-length hair.
Upon his return, he was excluded from class for still not getting a hair cut.
His father George said: "I could have cried when he told me what they did to him - they put him in a room and threw work at him, no contact with anyone."
"This is Northern Ireland in 2007. Solitary confinement, I think it's called - he did say he got plenty of work done, but I don't think it's fair."
Mr Stranaghan, from Rathcoole in Newtownabbey, has threatened legal action, saying the school is in breach of British law, European law and gender laws.
I would be depressed without my hairGrant Stranaghan
Year 11 pupil and rock music fan Grant told the BBC's Nolan Show that his long hair is a crucial part of his personal identity.
"I don't see why I should get my hair cut for them - it is my hair, my natural appearance and I don't think it's within their right to tell me to get my hair cut. I would be depressed without my hair - I've had it cut short before and I feel really bad for weeks afterwards, it's not a good experience."
School principal David Knox said there was never any intention to cause a stand-off.
He said Grant had been suspended because he was in breach of school regulations, adding that he would discuss the matter further with Mr Stranaghan.
More background here:
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.
The poll on the bbc site above is currently supporting Grant.