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Op-Ed

Victory on hair length? Not so fast!

Victory was declared when an August 19, 2022 DepEd memorandum was released, reiterating DepEd Order 32, s. 2017 that calls for non-discrimination. But there’s nothing in both DepEd orders that address the haircut policy.

The recent celebration that hair length is no longer an issue in schools is, I would say, an empty talk. I also thought the hair length issue is down the bin, but as I did further research, it is far from over.

Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich from Unsplash.com

Under the Duterte administration, DepEd Order 32, s. 2017 was issued “to promote the protection of children from all forms of gender-related violence, abuse, exploitation, discrimination, and bullying, and to promote gender equality and non-discrimination in the workplace and within the DepEd.”

This Memorandum has been the basis of the #nohaircutpolicy that gained ground on social media, which aimed to question the hair length policy specifically for male students.

Victory was declared when an August 19, 2022 DepEd memorandum was released, which simply reiterated the DepEd Order 32, s. 2017.

Miss Mela Habijan, declared: “We finally won the battle! LGBTQIA+ kids, simula sa araw na ito, malaya na tayong maging tayo sa paaralan.” However, the fight is far from over.

There’s nothing in DepEd Order 32, s. 2017 and DepEd Memorandum of 19 August 2022 that address the haircut policy.

In fact, DepEd has a standing policy based on DECS Manual 2000 on haircut of male students. This policy is reflected in the “DepEd Guidelines in the Development of Learners’ Discipline Manual.” Every regional division of DepEd issues these Guidelines, which then becomes part of the student handbook.

Specifically, the Guidelines states that: “the haircut for boys shall be at least one (1) inch above the ear and three (3) inches above the collar line.”

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DepEd Order 32, s. 2017 has NOT changed this policy at all. It’s interesting that the advocates trumpeting themselves as champions over this issue have NOT even mentioned the existence of the “DepEd Guidelines in the Development of Learners’ Discipline Manual,” which has a rule on hair length for male students, which has never been changed by any DepEd Order.

Certainly, there are public schools — and even private schools — that do not enforce this policy. You would be lucky if you are studying there.

However, for lasting, uniform, and consistent change to occur nationwide, the DepEd Guidelines in the Development of Learners’ Discipline Manual must be amended to reflect a hair length policy for male students that doesn’t re-enforce gender stereotypes, which have nothing to do in improving the academic and behavioral performance of students.

So Inday Sara Duterte, madame VP and DepEd Secretary, beke nemen po?

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