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Students with beards sent home

By JANELLE DE SOUZA Wednesday, January 23 2013

Several male students of Trinity College East Sixth Form were sent home on Monday by the head of Form 6, Joan Mason, for having facial hair.

According to reports, Mason sent home approximately 30 Form Six students, giving them two hours to remove their beards before returning to the school. Some however, did not return on Monday, as they were told not to do so, unless they were clean-shaven.

An official at the school noted that Mason had told the boys about their facial hair “on countless occasions” and she expressed that they needed to have clean faces.

She said they were eventually told they would be sent home if they did not remove the hair, which was what happened on Monday, along with a letter to their parents stating why they were sent home.

When asked if clean-shaven faces were part of the official school rules, the official said, “Not everything goes in the book.”

Asked about infringement on the rights of Muslim students, the official said she “knew all about the Muslim religion,” and facial hair was not a requirement.

She added that she even knew some Imams who shaved their beards, because it was not written in the Koran.

However, one follower of Islam stated that, while some Muslims believed growing a beard was a choice, and not a requirement, males practising the religion to the letter would follow the Prophet Muhammad, and grow one.

It was also noted that while some of the boys returned to the school yesterday “because they did not want a confrontation,” others did not return at all. It was also reported that one Muslim student brought his parents to speak to Mason about the situation.

Contacted yesterday, neither Mason nor members of the Parents’ Council would speak with Newsday.

Also, Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA) First Vice-President, Davanand Sinanan and National Parent Teacher Association president, Zena Ramatali, said they were not aware of the situation, and therefore could not comment.

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