17-year-old student must cut his hair by court order if he wants to return to school

A 17-year-old boy who refused to cut his long hair according to school rules has lost a legal dispute in the courts of Hong Kong, where many schools require male students to have short hair.

The case, which is reported today by the Hong Kong newspaper South China Morning Postdates back to 2021, when Oscar Wong He refused to cut his long hair, so his school prohibited him from entering the classroom and forced him to follow the classes between April and June through a “tablet” from the infirmary of the educational center.

Wong, who suffers from an autistic disorder, could not participate in physical education classes or breaks in common areas, so he only saw his classmates when they coincided in the bathroom, said the young man, who studies at the Tin Shui Wai Methodist College.

In July, the school allowed him to return to the classroom without cutting his hair, but according to Wang, the three months of isolation “weakened” his ability to socialize.

Many of the schools in the former British colony maintain rules that male students’ hair cannot touch the collar of their shirts or fall above the brow line.

After filing a complaint with the Hong Kong Equal Opportunities Commission in May last year, Wong asked his father to file a lawsuit against the school in court on his behalf, which this week refused to admit the complaint, alleging that the investigation of the Equality Commission continues.

The aforementioned body is also investigating another similar complaint filed by a 16-year-old student who was forced by his school to cut his hair despite the fact that his gender identity is female.

Nathan Lam made his case public last July and since then he has received the support of fifty civil associations that collect signatures to support his petition to eliminate these types of rules.

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Both Wong and Lang said their protests are inspired by “long-haired” former Hong Kong MP Leung Kwok-hung, who sued prison authorities for cutting off his long hair when he entered prison in 2014.

Leung’s case came to an end in 2020, when Hong Kong’s top court ruled that different hair rules for men and women amounted to gender discrimination.

For Wong, it is “absurd” to think that imposing an aesthetic code results in better student behavior.

At the moment, the school that the young man attends has said that it will not change its rules and that it is awaiting the result of the investigation by the Equality Commission.

Wong added that he has not given up yet and will file a new lawsuit when he turns 18 in 2023 if that Commission also rules against him.


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