Stu­dent’s laws suit trig­gers hair-rais­ing re­sponses

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - - WORLD | FOCUS ON JAPAN - ———————— By Mizuho Aoki

TOKYO >> Around 80 per­cent of pre­fec­tural high schools in Osaka have re­quested stu­dents whose nat­u­ral hair color is not black to re­port their orig­i­nal color in a re­cent sur­vey by the Osaka Pre­fec­tural Board of Ed­u­ca­tion.

The board was seek­ing to grasp the scope of reg­u­la­tions re­gard­ing hair color fol­low­ing a law­suit filed by a high school stu­dent in Octo ber. In the suit, the stu­dent is seek ing about $19,560 in dam­ages from the Osaka Pre­fec­tural Gov­ern­ment claim­ing her school de­manded she dye her nat­u­rally brown hair black as a con­di­tion to at­tend classes.

The sur­vey, con­ducted at 137 high schools, found 109 schools, asked stu­dents whose nat­u­ral hair color was not black to ver­ify their real hair color. Of the to­tal, 74 schools sought ver­bal con­fir­ma­tion while 35 asked for writ­ten doc­u­men­ta­tion. Ninety-three per­cent of schools had reg­u­la­tions for­bid­ding stu­dents from dye­ing or bleach­ing their hair.

Of stu­dents who vi­o­lated the rules, 38.7 per­cent were forced to leave school un­til their orig­i­nal color was re­stored.

Naoki Ogi, an ed­u­ca­tion com­men­ta­tor and Ho­sei Univer­sity pro­fes­sor, called the strict rules a vi­o­la­tion of hu­man rights.

Ogi noted that many high schools have asked stu­dents to sub­mit pho­to­graphs taken when they were in kinder­garten or el­e­men­tary school to con­firm that they are not ly­ing about their nat­u­ral hair color.

An 18-year-old teen filed a law­suit in late Oc­to­ber against the Osaka pre­fec­tural gov­ern­ment, claim­ing that her school had or­dered her to dye her nat­u­rally brown hair black if she wished to con­tinue at­tend­ing classes.

The stu­dent de­vel­oped a rash and scalp ir­ri­ta­tion af­ter dye­ing her hair re­peat­edly but her teach­ers con­tin­ued telling her that her hair was not black enough, the pe­ti­tion said. The school also has a pol­icy that pro­hibits stu­dents from dye­ing their hair.


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