Cabinet says it is prepared to legislate the wearing of locs at school, after child refused entry because of hairstyle

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The Cabinet of Antigua and Barbuda says that it will change the law, if necessary, to accommodate children who wear locs to school.

“The Cabinet of Antigua and Barbuda having met today, all members present—three days following the re-opening of all schools, public and private—expressed its strong condemnation of several schools, both private and public, that discriminate against Rastafarians and those students who wear their natural hair in locs,” the executive said in a statement.

“If it becomes necessary, the Parliament of Antigua and Barbuda will be induced to change policy into law,” the statement concluded.

Its announcement comes after a 5-year-old girl was refused entry into the New Bethel Seventh Day Adventist Academy in Liberta because the school has a policy against wearing locs. The child who had already been accepted into the school, was turned away during orientation after the principal pulled her mother aside and informed her that the child could not attend school with locs. The mother told Observer that she was given an ultimatum to chop off her daughter’s hair or not to return.

While the family do not present themselves as Rastafarians, Cabinet says the Constitution of Antigua and Barbuda protects freedom of religion, freedom of association, and the freedom to hold a belief system that differs from the majority’s.

“The Cabinet noted that objection to natural hairstyles on the heads of students may be couched in language covering school deportment; however, the object, as the Cabinet sees it, is to enable discrimination against children from the Rastafarian community.”

“That debate about exclusion of Rastafarians from schools ended in Antigua and Barbuda nearly 50 years ago. Schools are not to discriminate against members of the Rastafarian community, or those who choose to wear their hair in the same manner as the Rastafarians practice. That is the policy as articulated by the Government,” the statement went on.

Since the incident a number of people on social media have expressed disappoint at the school’s policy, some calling it the remnants of colonialism.

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