Imagine in 20 years time looking back over your class photos, picking out mates, people you didn’t know and then the guy with to colander on his head. I’d love to have a time machine to see where this story from todays NZ HeraldNZ Herald goes. Briefly, a student has claimed his school breached his human rights by not allowing him to wear his religious headwear (a colander) for school photos, he is a Pastafarian.
Pastafarianism is a thing – a legitimate religion; therefore, he should be entitled to follow his chosen faith but the school probably didn’t know what to make of it when he showed up with his shiny colander. Because on the surface, a kid turning up to school with a kitchen utensil on his head, does not fit the common understanding of religious headwear right?
I am curious about Pastafarianism and it’s ‘mocking approach’ of religion. For example the name of their church, Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, so I am wondering how other students from other religions feel about this guy getting all this publicity regarding his rights.
I still think it is important for young people to challenge rules and maybe people should not be too concerned about his future. It reminds me of this clip from Zeitgeist Moving Forward. Jacque Fresco has never been scared to challenge the system and has started a global movement (The Venus Project) because of his ability to challenge ideas.
While I respect his right to practice his chosen religion I’m not sure if the violation of his rights is worthy of a complaint to The Human Rights Commission, I don’t know his argument is ‘meaty enough’. I’d like to see him approach the Board Of Trustees and request a uniform review and perhaps consult with other religious groups in schools who have worked through these tricky issues. If he as committed as he says he is he needs to submit a proposal like everyone else.
Finally Religious persecution is a thing he might need to get used to. If he is a devout Pastafarian his faith should get him through the tough times. He simply needs to return to the sauce of his beliefs and feast on the goodness it brings.
I’m confident most people will realise that puberty brings on changes, and one of those is growing body hair. It should be a choice to shave or not shave body hair. When I say ‘choice’ I also understand there is pressure to present your body in a socially acceptable way, I wish it wasn’t that way. There are also cultural aspects to body hair and some if has very significant meaning. Given our multi-cultural society here in NZ and being in the 21st Century, I do find it strange that schools can have rules about where hair is permitted to grow. Students in New Zealand still face strict uniform requirements around hair length and facial hair (if male…I’ll come back to this).
So I was heartened to hear of a petition started by Kapiti College student Antony McEwan to allow year 13 students to have beards (if they can grow them). The students there can wear mufti and make up but not allow their bodies to do their thing. It got me pondering the meaning of facial hair that is perhaps different to leg hair, or arm hair, even arm pit hair! I’m not sure but I have a feeling it is to do with actually becoming a ‘Man’. It’s a form of body uniforming – keeping all males looking ‘the same’ – even if they are in mufti. I think it achieves this by keeping young men/males appearing like prepubescent boys. They can’t stop voices deepening and besides no-one ‘sees’ a voice, this is about the body and how it is viewed in school.
That also got me wondering about transgender guys. Let’s say someone starts testosterone at 15-16, they’re ready to ‘bro up’ and they are on it for a while and they finally get to facial hair growing (let’s say they are genetically gifted). The last thing he’s probably not going to want to do is shave off that hard earned beard, no matter how patchy it is.
Which is why this is more than just a fight for cisgendered teen guys getting to sport the latest fashion accessory. This is about an expression of biological, social, cultural, and gender diversity. It is time for schools to face facts about facial hair, it happens and it is completely harmless. Razor cuts and burns however – not so much fun, possibly harmful I’m guessing.
Good luck Anthony, and I hope you get your 500 signatures – it could be a close shave.