Britain's High Court ruled Friday that a high school's ban on cornrow hairstyles has led to racial discrimination and must be changed.
St. Gregory's Catholic Science College in London requires male pupils to wear a short "traditional schoolboy haircut" as part of efforts to banish gang-related symbols.
A boy who was refused admission as an 11-year old when he showed up on the first day of school with cornrows took the school to court. Lawyers for the boy, who is now 13 and cannot be named for legal reasons, argued the ban violated both race discrimination and sex discrimination laws, because girls are allowed to wear braids.
A judge ruled Friday the ban had resulted in "unlawful, indirect racial discrimination." While he said the school's "short back and sides" hair policy was lawful, he said cornrows must be allowed if they were "a genuine family tradition based on cultural and social reasons."
The school had argued it was serving an area where there was gun and knife crime _ much of it gang related _ and haircuts were often "badges" of gang culture. Banning the hairstyle was not discriminatory but justifiable, the school contended.
St. Gregory's said it was "naturally disappointed" by the ruling and will consider an appeal.