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In a win for trans students, EARIST to drop discriminatory policy on hair length restrictions

Transgender students will now be allowed to enroll in EARIST without getting their hair cut after an agreement was reached between the school-based student organization Bahaghari-EARIST and school officials.

Photo by Siora Photography from Unsplash.com

A win for #LGBTQIA students… at least in Eulogio Amang Rodriguez Institute of Science and Technology (EARIST).

Transgender students will now be allowed to enroll in EARIST without getting their hair cut after an agreement was reached between the school-based student organization Bahaghari-EARIST and school officials.

The school’s “guidelines on proper decorum” – posted in 2023 on EARIST’s Facebook page – included provisions of its 2021 student handbook, stating that male students are required to “observe a clean and decent haircut (barber’s cut 2 inches by 3 inches) without colorful highlights,” while female students are not allowed to have “colorful hair highlights.” Exceptions may be given to working students who require a certain hairstyle for work, and only upon approval of the school.

For EARIST, identity is based on the assigned sex at birth, and not on gender identity; transgender students are, therefore, to follow the policies related to their sex at birth.

Interestingly, EARIST is located in the City of Manila, where an anti-discrimination ordinance was passed in 2020 to prohibit discrimination on the basis of a person’s sexual orientation and gender identity expression (SOGIE).

Bahaghari-EARIST – which started raising their issue about the anti-LGBTQIA policy in October 2023 – staged a protest this March, with its head, JP Brillantes, stating that prohibiting transgender students from enrolling unless they cut their “long hair” is a “violation of students’ rights and a clear form of discrimination.”

The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) initiated a dialogue between the two parties, with “agreeable” solutions reached. Particularly:

  • all students will be allowed to enroll in EARIST regardless of their hair length;
  • questioned provisions on the student handbook related to admission and uniform will be held
  • student consultations will be held for policy revisions
  • CHED will roll out workshops for best practices in gender sensitivity

And so for the second semester of school year 2023-2024, “regardless of gender and particularly of how they wear/manage their hair, provided that those with long hair have them properly fixed or tied,” the university said in a statement released after the CHED-led meeting.

The school will also be making changes to its implementing rules and regulations concerning enrollment.

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“This concern is not only in EARIST. This is happening in many universities in the country,” CHED Chairperson J. Prospero de Vera III said, adding that schools should

review their student policies based on gender sensitivity and inclusivity laws.

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