Judge Rules Ban on cornrows is ‘indirect racial discrimination’

Many of you might have seen in the news recently, the story of the 12 year old boy who was excluded from his first day of school for wearing cornrows

He took the school to court and I was happy and surprised to hear that last week he won. Big clap for him and his parents.

Previously the school’s headmaster had said that their uniform policy “plays a critical role in ensuring that the culture associated with gangs of boys in particular – eg haircuts, bandanas, jewellery, hats, hoodies, etc – has no place in our school”.

However the high court ruled that St Gregory’s Catholic Science College in Harrow’s ban of the cornrows hairstyle was “unlawful, indirect racial discrimination”.

I accept that school uniform policies exist to maintain a smart appearance of pupils that does not distract from their studies. But the visual identity of different cultures can be very important and should also be considered when creating policies. It is not an easy thing to do with so many different cultures present in the UK, but failure to do so will lead to resentment and conflict with the cultures that don’t comply with uniform policies.

I have read several articles in which people stated that these styles are associated with gangs and that they wouldn’t allow their son to have them. My feeling is these hairstyles existed long before any gangs and by being ashamed to have them and by allowing them to be associated with gang culture we are criminalising parts of our own culture and history.

I believe that a large part of the problem is that these traditional styles are not seen widely on positive people, doing positive things. To date I have never ever seen a brother in rows in my office. Is it that we do not promote our own visual identity and we tend to conform? If lawyers and line managers had cornrows would a school ever contemplate excluding a child on such a hairstyle?

One of the reasons for starting The Natural Lounge is to encourage self acceptance any individual should be allowed to wear their own cultural hairstyles at any stage in their life. For us that’s rows, braids, locks and our own God given natural hair.



  1. oooo….this one’s a toughie for me…I definitely agree that school-aged boys should be allowed to wear cornrows to school as long as they are neat and not distracting (no beads or “Li’l Tyson”s braided into their heads LOL), but I don’t know how I feel about grown men in cornrows. I don’t necessarily associate the hairstyle with criminals, but rather little boys. Cornrows on men is the equivalent to women in big poof twisties with knockers or ribbons on the ends. I think that there’s a place for everything. Just like you probably wouldn’t show up at work with your fro blown out (unless if you work at a very liberal place), I wouldn’t expect a grown man to wear his hair in cornrows in corporate America. My husband has dreadlocks and he wears his hair back in a ponytail at work and does all the fun looks on the weekends and when we’re on vacation. IDK. Those are my thoughts…

  2. I’m going to have to agree with the first comment. I have no problems with boys/young men wearing cornrows. That school was wrong for doing what they did. But I don’t feel it’s appropriate on a grown man in a professional capacity.

  3. I disagree, even in Nigeria you are supposed to cut ur hair in school if you are a boy not for any discriminatory reasons but because it is the uniform. Girls as well in some schools.