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From the Editor

On that stupid haircut policy

Should students, including those from the LGBTQIA community, be forced to get haircuts before they are given proper education? “Only if getting haircuts makes geniuses,” says Michael David Tan. “Otherwise, it’s just plain discrimination.”

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While finishing high school in Kidapawan, we were mandated to get a haircut at least once a month. 2x2x3; that’s a cut not lower than the width of two fingers at the top of the ear, and three fingers from the nape of the neck. It was considered “normal”, us being lined up like criminals, some school official doing the manual measuring, and if wasn’t satisfied with the haircut, actually making stupid cuts that will force students to get a proper haircut when the school’s done for the day.

With LGBTQIA people yet again raising the draconian haircut policies of schools (and a State policy too, actually, with DepEd not really delving into this, while CHED allows higher educational institutions to do as they please under the guise of “academic freedom”), I’d say I had issues with this then… just as I still have issues with this now.

Foremost is, of course, the gender policing particularly of transgender and gender non-conforming people via haircuts. That is, when this is imposed, it easily dismisses people’s gender identities by imposing gender expressions using only a binary lens. Women grow their hair long, men cut their hair short. As if!

But this is a multi-layered issue.

Consider, for one, the monetary impact on people.

On one hand, many parents already have a hard time sending their kids to proper schools. Truly, incurring extra costs is just unrealistic.

On the other hand, there are actually LGBTQIA people who make a living by joining beauty pageants (Yes, this is true!). Meaning, they need to grow their hair to cut costs instead of spending to buy wigs; and for them to have better chances of winning (thus earning).

Secondly, the hair’s impact to learning is… non-existent.

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I have yet to meet anyone who became a genius after getting his/her/their haircut.

And thirdly, exactly because it serves nothing but aesthetic purposes, it ought not be considered as part of “academic freedom” practices.

Note that no one gets graded from getting a haircut; but it can be used to not allow people to enter schools, take exams, get clearances, etc.

I already have horrible memories of the haircuts I got from the hands of the school officials I once had.

Do you know they intentionally make zigzagging cuts to make students look stupid?
Or that they shame you in front of everyone for not being able to afford to get a haircut?
Or that they can kick you out of school, only allowed to return when you’ve had a haircut?

But my stories are not even at par with what other LGBTQIA people experienced.

In Mindanao, there were transgender people who were allegedly told to have their breast implants removed if they wanted to graduate at all.

There were trans women students in the Visayas who were not allowed to enroll unless they presented themselves in a masculine manner (I, seriously, don’t know what “masculine” means, considering macho rockstars grow their hair long, and yeah, wear makeup).

This policy is actually now used to not allow LGBTQIA people to access education (no matter the quality, even). And when this happens, it is – plain and simple – discriminatory.

And this needs to be changed.

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Otherwise, that mantra that “education is a human right” becomes bullshit. And this BS starts with the bloody haircut…

The founder of Outrage Magazine, Michael David dela Cruz Tan completed BA Communication Studies from University of Newcastle in NSW, Australia; and Master of Development Communication from the University of the Philippines-Open University. He grew up in Mindanao (particularly Kidapawan and Cotabato City), but he "really came out in Sydney" so that "I sort of know what it's like to be gay in a developing, and a developed world". Conversant in Filipino Sign Language, Mick can: photograph, do artworks with mixed media, write (DUH!), shoot flicks, community organize, facilitate, lecture, and research (with pioneering studies under his belt). He authored "Being LGBT in Asia: Philippines Country Report", and "Red Lives" that creatively retells stories from the local HIV community. Among others, Mick received the Catholic Mass Media Awards in 2006 for Best Investigative Journalism, and Art that Matters - Literature from Amnesty Int'l Philippines in 2020. Cross his path is the dare (guarantee: It won't be boring).


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