Jamaica’s Supreme Court Upholds School Ban on Dreadlocks

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[Jamaican High Court\Dreadlocks]
Olivia Grange: “I made the point...that 'the wider society must also examine its approach to members of the Rastafarian community and pledge to end discrimination that is manifested in our actions, including the denial of school admission to children with locks."
Photo: Twitter

Sherine Virgo is the mother of a seven-year-old who has been denied entry into a school in Jamaica--because her daughter wears dreadlocks.

In a stunning decision, the Jamaican Supreme Court has ruled in favor of a school that says a 7-year-old girl must cut her dreadlocks before she can return to school.

The ban was first imposed in 2018 by the Kensington Primary School in the town of Portmore. They told this student  “she must cut her dreadlocks for ‘hygiene’ reasons.”

The girl's mother, Sherine Virgo, says she will not cut her daughter's hair and will likely homeschool her instead.

“I will not be cutting her hair! That was never an option on the table. As it is right now, it seems that everything is going the homeschool direction anyways.”

Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange, the Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, has responded to the recent Jamaican High Court ruling in a statement:

“I have seen the media reports regarding the decision of the Supreme Court in a matter to do with the denial of access of a young child to education at a primary school because of her hairstyle.

“Like many of you, I’m extremely concerned about the reports on the decision as reported, and I have asked to see the written ruling when it becomes available.

“I have also requested that a team involving the legal officer in the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport to review the ruling and advise on the next steps.

“The Jamaican Constitution, and I was in the House when we passed the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, does not permit discrimination on the basis of religious or cultural practices or race. So I’m very interested to see on what grounds did the court make the ruling that is being reported.

“I made the point in the Sectoral Debate just two weeks ago that 'the wider society must also examine its approach to members of the Rastafarian community and pledge to end discrimination that is manifested in our actions, including the denial of school admission to children with locks."

Multiple Reggae artists have denounced the Jamaican High Court's decision, with some referencing the fact that the country's main iconic hero, Bob Marley was a Rastafarian who wore dreadlocks.

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