Thai officials say schools can set their own hair rules, but no harsh punishment

Thailand school haircut drama continues as the Education Ministry has announced yesterday that schools are free to set their own hairstyle rules. While Education Minister Trinuch Thienthong added that schools have been ordered not to impose harsh punishments on students who violate hairstyle rules, the secretary-general of Thailand’s Basic Education Commission reiterated that responsibility over the rules lies with schools. Trinuch said that schools have the flexibility to set rules with students and parents.

Thailand’s supposedly ‘official’ laws on haircuts changed 2 years ago, letting students wear their hair long, as long as it is “neat and tidy”. The law also supposedly allows both boys and girls to have either long, or short hair. Another important part of the ‘official’ law is that making students get haircuts as punishment is outlawed. Yet, a study by the British analytics firm YouGov found that 74% of respondents said forced haircuts were still being used to discipline students.

Earlier this week, members of Thailand’s so-called Bad Student movement posted a banner with the hashtag #freehairstyles outside of several schools. Yesterday, 3 students protested outside the Office of the Narcotics Control Board, calling for hairstyle freedom and education reform.

The Education Ministry has now responded by saying that schools can decide on their own policies, but students should not be harshly punished for violations, and schools have the flexibility to set rules with students and parents. Will this change anything?

In 2020 when a wave of youth protests swept through Thailand, mandatory haircuts were one thing students demanded change on. The other demands involved schools’ strict dress codes. Thailand’s school uniforms have origins in the country’s military history, and originally symbolised love for the country.

Earlier this month, the Thai office of the American beauty brand Dove also raised its voice in support of hairstyle freedom. Dove launched a campaign called #LetHerGrow, and released an ad about the impact of forced haircuts on girls. The video shows young girls having their haircut all in the same short bob, and crying.

It then show older girls and women who all have their own unique hairstyles, and are confident. The ad has sparked a debate in Thailand about whether forced haircuts are a violation of rights.

SOURCE: The Bangkok Post

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Tara Abhasakun

A Thai-American dual citizen, Tara has reported news and spoken on a number of human rights and cultural news issues in Thailand. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in history from The College of Wooster. She interned at Southeast Asia Globe, and has written for a number of outlets. Tara reports on a range of Thailand news issues.