Boy fights to keep hair over strict school policy
A CABOOLTURE Prep student risking expulsion from a strict Christian school if he does not have his traditional long hair cut will have to wait until next month to find out whether he can keep his long hair and stay at the school.
Cyrus Taniela's bid to keep his long hair while attending Australian Christian College Moreton is today in the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) in Brisbane for a hearing.
The QCAT member who is deciding the case, Samantha Traves, today told the hearing that she plans to give her decision on July 10, which is the Friday before the start of the school's second semester.
In opening his case today, lawyer Chris McGrath told the tribunal that the "nub" of Cyrus's case was that "he will be unenrolled unless he cuts his hair, and he can't wear it in a bun".
"If he was a little girl there would be no problem, but because he is a boy it's not okay," Mr McGrath told the court.
Giving evidence today mother Wendy Taniela told the tribunal that she and her husband had agreed not to cut Cyrus's hair until he turns seven, as part of family tradition.
Mrs Taniela, who is Samoan, said her husband is of Cook Island heritage, and they have a tradition where they have a special coming-of-age ceremony to cut his hair, as a sign of becoming a man.
Cyrus, who is the family's eldest son, started school in Prep this year and had barely been at the school a week when he was told his hair breached school policy.
His family contacted the Queensland Human Rights Commission after the school refused to compromise on its uniform policy.
Mrs Taniela told the tribunal that after the school initially complained about Cyrus wearing a bun, she had begun braiding his hair instead, and tucking it in so his braid did not hang below his collar.
But she said that after the school's board met to discuss Cyrus's hair, it said the braid also breached school policy
Mrs Taniela argues that Cyrus's hair cutting ceremony is due to occur in September next year and it's an elaborate occasion akin to a wedding which takes more than a year to organise, with contributions of gifts and hand-sewn items from family members.
The hearing continues, with evidence due to be given later today by Gary Underwood, the principal of Australian Christian College Moreton.