A 17-year-old boy has been suspended from school after turning up in shorts during winter – but teachers have since told him he could have worn a skirt and tights.
The student’s mother said her son was given internal suspension, meaning he had to spend a day at St Helena Secondary College’s junior faculty in Eltham North, north east of Melbourne, after receiving three warnings.
She said rather than have him ‘humiliated’ at the junior facility, she kept him home because it was ’embarrassing’ for him to learn separately to his Year 11 peers, Herald Sun reported.
The boy – who his mother has decided against naming – has a medical condition that can cause him to overheat.
‘I was told on Friday he’d done the crime and would do the time. I don’t agree or endorse for him to be sent to the junior school to be humiliated,’ the mother said.
She had since presented her son’s principal, Karen Terry, with a medical certificate, which detailed her son’s tendency to get nose bleeds when he was too hot.
The principal reportedly took it into consideration but requested more information on the condition.
Diversions from the school’s uniform policy, which stated students could only wear pants or a skirt and tights in winter, was dealt with on a case-to-case basis.
A staff member allegedly told the parent both uniform options, including the skirt and tights, were ‘gender neutral’ and suggested her son wear the pairing instead of shorts.
‘When a teacher tells me my son can wear a skirt and tights but can’t wear shorts, I find that offensive. He could go to school tomorrow in a skirt and tights but if he wears shorts he gets in trouble — how ridiculous,’ she said.
The Department of Education confirmed the school’s gender neutral uniform policy and denied the mother was told her son could wear a skirt.
Principal Ms Terry granted the boy a temporary exemption and allowed him to wear shorts for the week after an application was made by his family.
‘Our school strives to support all our students, especially when they have a health concern,’ Ms Terry said.
The mother has called on the school to change its uniform policy so students could wear shorts in all seasons of the year.
She said she would be raising the issue at the next school council meeting.
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