Auckland school reverses ban on students wearing hijab after 'feedback'

A top Auckland girls' school has lifted a ban on students wearing the hijab after a teacher called the policy discriminatory.

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The school says, however, students can wear a headscarf today, just not as a regular part of the school uniform. Source: Breakfast

RNZ reported this morning that two Muslim sisters had raised the issue of wearing a hijab at Diocesan School, a private Anglican school in Epsom, several weeks ago.

Staff had been stunned to learn from Principal Heather McRae this week that the long-standing uniform policy banned visible religious items, including the hijab. The policy was reinforced despite calls to support the Muslim community following the Christchurch terror attack.

Ms McRae and board chair Andrew Peterson released a statement through the school's PR company this afternoon, saying the school is revising its school uniform policy so that any student who wishes to wear the hijab can do so.

"After undertaking careful and considered discussion and receiving community feedback, we believe a revision of our uniform policy is appropriate," the statement said. 

"We are a compassionate school and are always open to discussion with our families and students around our uniform policy. 

"We believe that now is an appropriate time to revise our policy to allow for the wearing of the hijab by our Muslim students who wish to do so."

Diocesan School has a culture of acceptance of all faiths and backgrounds, and the the uniform is "to foster a sense of inclusiveness and to avoid differences in dress inviting division and separation amongst the girls", the statement said. 

"To the best of our knowledge, there has never been any formal request from a parent or student to wear the hijab at the school," it added.

The school has today observed two minutes silence and is supportive of the Scarves in Solidarity event today for victims of the Christchurch mosque attacks, the school statement said.  

"We will continue to uphold our values and encourage the celebration of diversity and inclusion at our school," the statement concluded.