My child has also faced discrimination over her hair - mom

Pretoria High School for Girls. (News24)
Pretoria High School for Girls. (News24)

Johannesburg - A mother of a Grade 9 pupil at a Johannesburg private school told News24 that her child has also faced discrimination over her hair.

This comes amid an ongoing protest by pupils at Pretoria High School for Girls who claim that black girls' hairstyles are being discriminated against at the school.

The mother said her child was told by the school that she did not look presentable when she cut her dreadlocks off and began sporting an afro.

"They told me they have a certain format. When she [cut off] her dreadlocks they said she wasn't presentable," said the parent.

The mother said she was unhappy with her child's school because their actions were discriminatory and parents did not have any input in the school's code of conduct.

"Parents don't have a say. For me, I wish schools could loosen up a bit and allow our kids to do braids. We need to teach our children presentation but allow them the freedom to have a different hairstyle. Hair is part of our culture, it is part of who I am and how I express myself. Our children need to be given an opportunity to express how they feel," she told News24.

Self-conscious

Another parent, whose child is a Grade 5 pupil at a different Johannesburg private school, said she had not experienced discrimination by the school. She, however, said her child has experienced forms of discrimination from her peers.

"She has an afro and no one says anything. She used to be self-conscious about her hair and I showed her pictures of celebrities like Pearl Thusi and Zahara. The school never said anything but her peers at school made her feel self-conscious. I tell her she is my baby with an afro and she is beautiful; nobody must tell her otherwise, she must always be proud."

Pupils at Pretoria High School for Girls claim that they are not allowed to have hairstyles such as braids, afros and dreadlocks.

- Read more: The 4 hairstyles banned at Pretoria High School for Girls

However, according to the school's code of conduct: "Cornrows, natural dreadlocks and singles/braids (with or without extensions) are allowed, provided they are a maximum of 10mm in diameter. Singles/braids must be the same length and the natural colour of the girl's hair."

Longer braids have to be tied back. No patterned cornrows are allowed.

A petition against the school reportedly garnered over 4 000 signatures by Monday morning.

In it, the school is accused of forcing black girls to straighten their natural hair and claiming they're "conspiring" when standing in groups.

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