Casual clothes, dyed hair: Bangkok schools ease uniform, hairstyle rules
BANGKOK — As a first step towards freedom and respecting children’s rights, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has instructed 437 schools to let their students wear casual clothes once a week.
It has also instructed schools to ease off on regulations related to students’ hairstyles and insisted that everybody’s styles and preferences be respected.
Two orders were issued on June 23 by acting BMA city clerk Wanthanee Watana and sent to all district offices to be relayed to schools under their jurisdiction.
One order said that students at all BMA schools should be allowed one non-uniform day a week. The schools can reach an agreement with students and their parents on which day this would be.
The order said students who find it difficult to wear casual clothing can opt for their physical education or scout/guide uniforms.
The order also specified that schools must ensure that the new regulations do not violate students’ gender, faith and diversity or affect their rights and liberty.
These changes are in response to student activists who have been protesting against being forced to wear uniforms.
An uproar was sparked on social media earlier this month when 15-year-old political activist Thanalop “Yok” Phalanchai was barred from enrolling in the prestigious Triamudomsuksapattanakarn School.
The teenager, who was the youngest person to face lese majeste charges in Thailand, was stopped from returning to school because she refused to wear a school uniform and had dyed her hair in defiance of regulations.
On June 14, the school declared that Thanalop was no longer its student for repeatedly violating school rules.
Social media, meanwhile, was deeply divided with conservative parents slamming her for being defiant, while the liberal side supported her fight for “individual rights”.
Many also pointed out that Bangkok Christian College (BCC) has been observing “casual Tuesdays” since February. Though BCC’s policy was introduced to give students a chance to express themselves, it was met with a lot of resistance from the conservatives.
The second order issued by the BMA said schools must reach an agreement with students on hairstyles, instead of forcing them all to wear their hair in the same way.
The order instructed schools to not violate students’ rights and liberty, as well as not cause mental distress by forcibly cutting their hair or embarrassing them in public.
Teachers have been known to punish students who do not obey rules on hairstyles by chopping off their hair in front of the entire school during morning assembly.