Two Muslim schoolboys have been barred from classes because they will not shave off their beards. Both 14-year-olds were placed in “isolation” from the start of the new term at Mount Carmel Roman Catholic high school in Accrington, Lancashire.
The head teacher said the matter was not one of religion but about dress code. Xavier Bowers told the Lancashire Evening Telegraph: “We have not taken this decision lightly. I have spent quite a lot of time researching the issue and speaking to Muslim elders.
A relative of one of the youngsters said it was “pure discrimination”. The family member, who did not wish to be named, told the paper: “Because these boys cannot shave their beards for religious reasons, they are being put in isolation for six-and-a-half hours every day. They are not being allowed to mix with anybody or speak to friends. It is pure discrimination.
In response to this week’s beard ban, Bowers added that the clean shaven rule had been in place for some time, although two boys were allowed to keep their beards on religious grounds as an “exception” last year as their exams approached and the school did not want to place them under “unfair pressure”. He said that a number of other Asian boys were then spoken to and it was made clear they must return from the summer clean shaven.
It is understood talks are on-going between the families of the two boys and the school to resolve the issue.