No Rasta allowed: Jamaican high court defends dreadlock ban in schools


In what has been described as a surprise ruling, a high court in Jamaica has defended a school’s right to deny access to a child whose dreadlocks were deemed a contravention of school rules.

The Kensington Primary School in Portimore had said a then five-year-old could not attend the school with her hairstyle. So the parents of the ward, Sherine and Dale Virgo, took the matter to court.

The case was taken before the court after the Virgo family were asked to cut their daughter’s dreadlocks “for ‘hygiene’ reasons,” in 2018. But after the ruling, mother Sherine says she is not going to cut her daughter’s dreadlocks.


“I will not be cutting my daughter’s hair. If they [the chool] give me that ultimatum again, I will be moving her,” Sherine was quoted as saying.

On his part, Dale, the child’s father, decried the ruling saying:

“A child was refused because of her Black hair, you know? It’s so weird that right now in the current climate of the world, in 2020, we are having protests, and Black people are fed up. This is an opportunity the Jamaican government and the legal system had to right these wrongs and lead the world and make a change,” he continued. “But they have decided to keep the same system.”

Jamaica’s Education minister Karl Samuda has refused to comment on the matter even as pressure group Jamaicans for Justice says the school’s rules deny the girl her freedoms and access to education.

Just like the issue of patois, many in the country feel that dreadlocks are intimately connected to the Rastafarian culture in the island nation. Friday’s ruling cuts to the soul on the question of Jamaican identity.