A private Christian school told her to apologize after trying to kick the five-year-old over her height
A private Christian school that threatened to deport a five-year-old boy for cultural reasons for growing his hair has had to make excuses.
Cyrus Taniela and his family took Australian Christian College Moreton north of Brisbane to the tribunal after they were told that his locks should be “neat and tidy.”
The youngster was told that he would be deregistered from the school if he did not follow the rules – which prompted his Samoa mother Wendy to take the case to court and say it was her son’s hair for a traditional haircut was grown.
She said the ceremony was performed by his Cook Islander father and it was customary for the eldest son of a family not to have his hair cut before growing up.
The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal, which started last month, focused on whether the school was in violation of Australian anti-discrimination laws.
On Friday, the tribunal ruled in favor of the Taniela family, saying that non-compliance with the school was a “violation” of the Anti-Discrimination Act.
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Cyrus Taniela (photo) grows his hair for a traditional hair cutting ceremony at the age of seven, but his strict school had demanded that it be cut
Cyrus (photo with his sister, who also goes to school) and his family were told to follow Australian Christian College rules and cut his hair or he would be excluded
“The respondents’ behavior in the proposal to deregister Cyrus Taniela from Australian Christian College Moreton for failing to adhere to the uniform policy regarding his hair is against … anti-discrimination law,” QCAT- Samantha Travers replied,
The tribunal also ruled that the school could not compel Cyrus to have his hair above the collar or to take it out of a bun.
The school has been instructed to personally apologize to the young person.
Daily Mail Australia has contacted Australian Christian College Moreton for comment on the ruling.
Ms. Taniela told it sunrise in February the ceremony was a ‘Cook Island male’s pass of passage ceremony, turning a boy into a man’.
“We tried to adapt to the school uniform by tidying his hair above the collar, but they informed us that we still need to cut it,” she said.
A Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal determined that the school could not compel Cyrus to have his hair over the collar or from a bun
Elder Nga Toka of the Cook Islands said such ceremonies were usually prayerful events with a lot of singing and dancing.
The child’s hair is tied with ribbons, and the community is called upon by a pastor who gives blessings to help cut it, she said.
The Taniela family had decided that this would happen on Cyrus’ seventh birthday.
Cyrus was initially sent to school with his hair in a bun, but the Taniela family were told this was also against the institution’s rules.
Jason (photo, left) and Wendy (right) Taniela, Cyrus’ parents, see Brisbane hearing leaving
Ms. Taniela then sent him to class with her hair in a braid, but the school also objected, the court heard.
The school agreed that Cyrus could continue to attend his calves pending a decision by the tribunal.
The school’s lawyer, Christopher Murdoch, asked Ms. Taniela why her family hadn’t brought up the ceremony.
The tribunal has instructed the private school to personally apologize to the young person in writing
“It is almost like organizing a wedding at such ceremonies,” she said.
She said that aunts needed time to sew a traditional blanket, which takes more than 12 months to complete.
Mr. Murdoch also asked how many haircuts she attended or blankets that Taniela sewed, implying that the traditions were not commonplace.
Mrs. Taniela did not tell him because she is Samoan and this is a Cook Islands tradition based on the beliefs of Cyrus’ father’s family.
Ms. Taniela (photo, with Cyrus) explained that in the Cook Islands it is a tradition for boys to grow their hair before they reach adulthood
Questions were also asked as to why Ms. Taniela and her husband, Jason, had not thoroughly read Uniform School Policies before sending Cyrus to the school where his sister was already enrolled.
“Like any parent who’s always in a hurry … I signed and forwarded the form so we could get him on campus,” said Taniela.
The tribunal had heard that Cyrus’s haircut ceremony was initially an intimate affair with only 50 to 100 immediate family members.
But the school’s actions and the resulting media coverage now made many more people want to come and take longer to organize.