When I was a student in primary school and high school, I used to cut short hair but longer than now. I dreamt to be a pixy hair woman, smart and work as a children book writer.Many times, I felt uncomfortable when teachers came to cut my hair in front of my friends. I felt really bad because of hair strict rules and the laughs from friends. Later in Life, I realized that not only me had the same negative feelings. On 28 February 2019, I found sad news on social online again about a boy who committed suicide because he was scared to go to school. You want to know the reason why he had to commit suicide and was scared to go to school? I want to tell his story briefly…
The day before the final test, this boy was concerned about the hair strict rules which were provided by teachers. He wanted to follow the rules but his hair too long and he knew that if he can’t cut hair the same as the rules, the teachers will not allow him to have any final test. He went back home and called his mom. Mom didn’t respond and he went alone to the barber. Unfortunately, the barber was closed. Then, he came back to home and his mother later found his body was hanging.
Almost 40 years that Thailand has had hair strict rules. It seems normal for Thai society but for us as gender activists, child rights activists, human right activists and also child and adolescent psychiatrists we disagree with those rules. Thai education system still has punishment for students who break the hair rules. Teachers are able to cut students hair in front of their friends and teachers, reduce score and also suspend the student from school.
Nobody cares about children and youth’s feeling. The strict rules create fear and depression. Easy to find a lot of negative memories from people but no one want to stop the hair strict rules in my country.
Shine Wora Dhammo, a monk who works on gender topics, Hinghoy Noy, Supecha Baothip and Sulai porn from Tamtang, also, more than 300 people who put their name on Hair rules suggestion letter to Ministry of Education all disagree with Hair strict rules. We need to see the flexible rules or new solution for helping children and youth.
After we launched the hair campaign on social media and also Hinghoy Noy Facebook page. We got a lot of negative feedback. For instance, many elders said “children who have depression are weak and they deserve to die, hair rules just are small rules in school if children can’t follow the rules how the become good people who respect the law. If this boy becomes his son, they also want to see him die”. We thought that these kinds of comments are so violent. Also, we want to work on depression information, gender, child right and human right, SOGIES, and gender equality.
Hinghoy Noy works on child-friendly media and focuses on diverse taboo topics. Hence, The Hair strict rules are a part of taboos in Thai society which children and youth can’t talk about freely. Hair is a symbolic expression of freedom and identity. Hinghoy Noy wants to support children and youth to grow up with good self-esteem and self-confidence. Also, respect others by accepting any difference.
We are supposed to educate people to focus on what is inside their head and outside their head isn’t it?