Friday, 2 November 2012

Movember discrimination

This year Gus was going to join in with Movember with me and hopefully join Team Dadzclub.

However, his school has other ideas.

On discussing it with the school they have told me he can't do it.

I inquired more-so on why he can't do it. Especially as there is nothing in the uniform policy ans some staff are doing it this year, as they did last year.  The response shocked me somewhat.

"He's not allowed to do movember as he's one of the only few able to do so."

I'm sorry but what the flip? I see this as bang out of order, bordering on discrimination.

I was not happy with the original response I received over the phone so I aimed to book an appointment to discus it with the school's deputy head who turned the idea down. As discussing things face to face for me means I think more rational and stay calmer in situations i'm not happy with.

So i ask my son to pass on a message to call me so we can arrange a face to face meeting.
They don't and the messages I receive from the boy are as follows
"shes not changing her mind. and is talking to other dep head." Followed by "Still saying no, because it makes me different" (it turns out other things were said, but the conversation will be left out)

This does wind me up a fair bit as all i wanted was to arrange to talk about it, not cause an argument between the boy and his school. But wither they decided to not respond to the original request to sit and sort this out properly.

I end up calling the school back, asking can I come in and discus it with them, explaining the reasoning of the no was not impressive to me. They promise to call back.

They do and I speak to the deputy head involved. Again the main request to sit and talk has been ignored. The discussion left me with the following to think about.

  • My son will be treated differently if he grow's a mo. Ignore the uber deep voice he's had since age 11 or the fact he's been shaving since age 9
  • They think it's inappropriate for a 13 year old to want to join in with a charity event in this manner. (i dread to think what they school's stance of balls of steel would be) 
  • Staff can do what they want with no chance of criticism or question by parents. 
  • They won't budge or talk in person about this. 

All I wished to do at this point was to talk with them and sort this or an alternate idea out. Mainly as it's an event where both sexes can take part in different ways.
in the end my partner takes the phone as she can see I'm getting stressed. She speaks to them and then tells me she thinks they've handled it badly. I seriously agree with her on this.
After the original response. I took my frustrations to facebook Which in turn provided an amazing idea by the amazing b3tan, Dixon Balls. Who said "The school is so uncreative. Why not have the other kids who can't grow a mustache wear a fake mustache for a day and be sponsored for it? *facepalm* "
This to me is a fantastic idea, which the way things are going they won't listen. A 
beard-themed mufti day would have been awesome. everyone could have helped towards movember and would have given the school a huge amount of good press. Oh well They've said their piece on it. 

Additionally Movember have said they will speak to the school on other appropriate ideas they could use for the event. And I sincerely hope they do.I hope the school do not see it as harassment on the issue as it not intended. More of a way to iron issues if they come to this situation again.  

What are your thoughts on this?



  1. I totally agree with you that it is ridiculous and even more so that they are refusing to discuss it face to face. If their "uniforn policy" if there is such a thing does not mention facial hair I would just let him go in with his Mo, and dare them to treat him differently, but then again that is not a nice predicament to put your son in :-(
    Aaron has been in his nursery for 14 months, and we've all always got on, but this Tuesday I was treated badly and when I dared put a complaint in, in writing, I have been treated even worse, like some sort of witch hunt.
    Anyway I wish you luck,
    Liska x

  2. Hiya Liska.
    T he uniform policy dated the 3rd October 2012 has nothing about facial hair, I've downloaded a copy just in case. (and had archived the original copy i hope)

    As for the nursery. I'll leave that one for another post.

  3. I am appalled and disgusted at this, and I say that as a teacher. If it was a pupil in my school (unlikely due to teaching primary) then I would have fully supported it and pushed for the fun day as you suggest. That school has failed and won't discuss it because they know they're wrong. The worst thing out of the whole situation is their refusal to discuss this with you in a meeting. Really bad work on their part.

  4. Also, what do they do when a Muslim or Sikh boy starts growing a moustache?

  5. It seems the school are being extremely non-supportive and uncooperative. In recent years, education has become less and less flexible and their refusal to even discuss this in an adult way just proves this. What kind of message are they sending to their pupils if they are against them participating in charitable giving like this?! I find it all very disappointing both as a parent and as someone who used to work in education. I would at least expect my requests to meet and talk to be considered. Shame on the school for acting in such a way!

  6. Dunstable and luton have a huge ethinical mix of religons and faiths. Luton has no issues with this on at all from what i have discovered. It's just this school with the problem.

    Made more sad is we moved the boy to this school after his previous school failed him multiple times in the first year.

  7. Indeed. The lack of support on this is awful to many.

    If they would have given us a valid reason and allowed this to be discussed in person we may not have found a resolution, but would have a better knowledge of where we stand.

  8. If your son wanted to do a sponsored run at the school, would they stop him, as kids in wheelchairs couldn't participate? If he wanted to have a cake sale, would they stop him, as it might be unfair to diabetics? Or, more fitting - what if he wanted to shave his head in solidarity to those who have lost their hair during cancer treatment? Would a school full of skinheads freak people out more or less than a few teens with moustaches? This seems genuinely a stupid and arbitrary rule.

  9. I think this is taking the edict of treating all children the same too far. They do it in several different ways, but the end result is always wrong. I would say the school are inflexible and downright ridiculous. Movember could range around several different activities that kids could take part in.

    Shunning a request to sit and talk about it is simply ridiculous. I'd be making an appointment with whoever the headteacher reports to, and gaining a copy of their policies and procedures to see where it could fit.

  10. Cheetahsinmyshoes5 November 2012 at 03:19

    I would suggest an inquiry made to school about their 'formal complaints procedure' and to whom on the Governing Body you should address your letter to. That usually speeds things up a tad. It could have been such an amazing piece of PR - and, just a thought, are there other children in school that grown their hair (be it facial or otherwise) for religious they treat them differently?

  11. As Cheetahsinmyshoes says, there will be a formal complaints procedure. It usually goes:

    1. Speak to the Head Teacher.
    2. Write to the Head Teacher.
    3. Write to the Chair of Governors.

    Obviously, you may not need to go to 3, but those are the steps you should go through. Your school might be different although unlikely but asking for the formal complaints procedure is no bad thing.

  12. So sorry to hear your story. At my school we are embrassing it whole heartedly, staff (male and female, teaching and non-teaching), governors and some pupils are joining in. We're using it as a great excuse to raise awareness, afterall testicular cancer affects young men and the sooner they become aware the better. We're doing allsorts -cake sales, assemblies and will have a vote for the best Mo at the end of the month.
    link to press coverage of our 2010 event.
    Hopefully they will come round eventually. Personally I think it's a great education opportunity after all that is one of the main aims of Movember. Don't give up. Mo Sista Lou :{)

  13. Sounds like they've had a knee jerk reaction to the request. Say no because we not sure about saying yes sort of thing. Even if they wanted to say no, they should have given the impression that they'd seriously thought about it and been prepared to discuss it with you as you asked.

  14. Name and shame.

    What is the head teachers email address so that I and others may vent our disgust?
    The names of the governors?

    This is one of those stories that could easily go viral and a large number of disproving messages will put them in their places.

    What about the local Education Authority? A large number of complaints to them might not go amiss either.

    I have had so many run-ins with my local secondary school over their frankly at times abusive behaviour towards children that this story does not come as a great surprise.

  15. Totally supportive of you and Gus, Paul - as you can see from my blog today, at hope it helps!

  16. Take their approach. Since Gus has to save every day he is being discriminated against as he has to do something "all the other kids" don't have to do. I say Gus you grow your stash with pride, raise lots of money and be very proud of yourself for doing such an honorable thing. Good Luck - petition anyone? :)