Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Long Hair Discrimination case in N. Ireland

The court has ruled against Grant in Northern Ireland in his desire to have long hair despite evidence showing how women in he school could adopt any hair style they liked. In enforcing a ban against long hair for men Ballyclare High finds itself in ignominious company alongside Nazi Germany and modern states well known for ignoring human rights like Iran, Turkemistan and North Korea. (See previous posts on Long hair and Fury as long-haired son suspended) What has not been given prominence in much of the coverage elsewhere is the fact Grant was attacked by a thug waving a pair of scissors during the dispute. An interesting example were the prejudice of the authorities results in violence. More details below:


21 January 2008

BALLYCLARE High School has welcomed a High Court ruling that its uniform and disciplinary policies are lawful.
The school had gone to the High Court seeking approval of its code of conduct, including its uniform regulations, after a row erupted over the suspension of fifth form pupil Grant Stranaghan for failing to comply with hairstyle regulations.
The Rathcoole teenager was suspended for three days in November for refusing to get his hair cut and was later segregated from other pupils on his return to school.
Lawyers for the 16-year-old and another pupil disciplined for the length of his hair had contested the action, claiming that the school's rules sexually discriminated against boys.
However, after a three-day judicial review hearing, the judge said he was satisfied that the school's code was not unlawful.
Mr Justice Weatherup ruled that Grant Stranaghan's human rights had not been breached, but added that he should have been put on detention rather than being segregated from his classmates.
The judge said that as segregation was "not part of the disciplinary policy", a lesser sanction should have been used upon his return to school after his suspension.
"We are obviously pleased that the judge has decided that our code of conduct, including our uniform code, is lawful. This is an important decision, not just for Ballyclare High School, but for all other schools and organisations which operate a uniform code.
"We have been deeply grateful for the huge support which we have received from all quarters throughout this process. We know that the overwhelming majority of our parents and pupils will be pleased and relieved that we can now carry on with the proper business of the school," a statement issued on behalf of the school said.
Speaking to the Newtownabbey Times on Monday, Grant's father, George Stranaghan, confirmed that he is awaiting confirmation from his solicitor regarding the exact wording of the appeal decision and advice on what steps he can take next.
Mr Stranaghan has vowed to appeal against the ruling that his son wasn't discriminated against, vowing to take the case further, including possibly to the European Court of Human Rights.
"If the appeal doesn't work then I am willing to go the whole way for him. We will go as far as we can with this," he commented.
"I am waiting for the school to apologise at the very least. I think we are due an apology after they put him (Grant) in solitary confinement for six weeks," Mr Stranaghan added.
Grant is currently sitting his mock GCSE exams, and his father is waiting to see what action the school is going to take when he returns to classes.
Ballyclare High School's rules on hairstyles do not permit male pupils to grow their hair to a length that reaches their blazer collar.


Newtown Abbey Today
16 January 2008

A SCHOOLBOY at the centre of a row over the length of his hair is the victim of sexual discrimination, it has been claimed in court.
A photograph of prefects at Ballyclare High School with girls "breaking rules on appearance" was shown to the High Court in Belfast on Monday.
"This is one of the clearest instances of direct discrimination this court is likely to see," the barrister said.
The school is seeking a court ruling on the validity of its uniform policy and procedures amid claims that it is discriminating against fifth form pupil Grant Stranaghan for having long hair.
The 16-year-old was suspended for refusing to cut his hair.
At the judicial review hearing, a barrister, appearing for a second boy given detention on the same grounds, urged the court to find the policies unlawful.
The lawyer claimed that enforcing uniform policy in the school differed between the sexes and that boys received less favourable treatment through being denied their choice of hairstyles.
According to the school's uniform and dress code rules girls with long hair should have it tied back. They are not permitted to have extreme hairstyles and colours.
Boys, meanwhile, are forbidden to have hair touching blazer collars or severe number-one cuts.
Opening his response, the barrister produced a photograph of prefects from a recent school magazine.
He said: "What one sees is a number of boys and girls. The boys in the prefects' picture are all in compliance with the school's policy, they appear to have hair cuts in keeping with the policy.
"The girls, on the other hand, have a variety of hairstyles. On a quick count I see 30 female pupils in the image, and of those, 27 are in breach of the school rules.
"They do not have their hair tied back neatly with a clip or ribbon. There may be three female pupils who are in compliance."
The hearing continues.

Hair row boy Grant is all cut up about scissors attack - Education - News - Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The father of a teenager caught up in a court battle over his hairstyle last night told of the terrifying moment his son was attacked by a young thug brandishing a pair of scissors.

Grant Stranaghan (15) stayed away from school yesterday as a result of the sinister incident - which happened as he was travelling home on the school bus on Friday afternoon.

His father, George, took the decision to keep his son at home over concerns that his safety could not be guaranteed after the attack.

The schoolboy has become embroiled in a row which could have massive legal implications for schools across Northern Ireland.

Last month, he was given a three-day suspension from Ballyclare High School because his hair was two inches long. Since returning to school - over two weeks ago - the teenager has been kept isolated from his classmates.

Mr Stranaghan said: "We just aren't sleeping over all of this.

" Grant was sitting on the bus on Friday when he realised that someone was coming up behind him.

"He turned around and there was a boy there with a big pair of scissors. Grant was able to push him away but when you think what could have happened it's very worrying.

"If the bus driver had to brake - it was like coming at him with two big knives. We kept him away from school because we just don't know if he's safe or not."

The Belfast Telegraph revealed yesterday that Ballyclare High School - where Grant is a fifth year pupil - is seeking affirmation from the High Court that its actions have been legal.

A statement from the school said: "Ballyclare High School has begun legal proceedings to support its position regarding the case of a boy who was suspended for deliberately flouting school rules by refusing to have his long hair cut."

The school took the action after Mr Stranaghan said he intends to apply for leave for a judicial review into the matter and ask for his son to be allowed to return to class, claiming that he is suffering sexual discrimination, as well as a breach of his human rights.

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