In some schools, using ketchup, wearing a backpack or making a Father’s Day card can get you detention. Inside we take a look at some of the most absurd school bans.
To some, the idea of banning backpacks from school might seem ridiculous, but that’s what Michigan’s Jackson High School did. The school’s principal Barbara Baird-Pauli, said the policy was enacted as part of the school's student handbook to improve safety, stem congestion caused by backpacks left in aisles and between lunch tables, and eliminate a way for students to easily steal things.
Seldom would you expect a school to ban soccer balls, but that’s what happened at Earl Beatty Public School in Toronto, Canada. The school enforced the ban after a parent was knocked unconscious by a soccer ball. “It is a school issue of safety. I am the principal, I care for the kids’ safety and I have that decision making right,” said the school’s principal, Alicia Fernandez.
Mounts Bay Academy in the UK forbids teachers from using red ink because it is considered “a very negative colour”. Instead, the teachers are instructed to use green coloured pens. Students, on the other hand, must respond to their teachers’ comments by using purple coloured pens.
Schoolgirls of Augusta County Schools in Virginia were banned from wearing chapstick thanks to a local disease outbreak. This prompted the school’s officials to seek advice from the local Health Department and doctors. The school’s assistant superintendent for administration said: “Our policy is not to be so restrictive. It is really a protection for the students.”
If you’re a Christian who is about to attend Malaysia’s Sekolah Menengah Ken Wah secondary school, you might want to leave your crucifix at home. The school has banned the wearing of the sacred cross for all students. Those caught wearing it can be sent for counselling, caned on the palm or even suspended. According to a teacher at the school, the reason behind the crucifix ban was that the religious symbols might be mistaken for jewellery
Students in California are banned from wearing shirts showing American flags during the Mexican holiday of Cinco de Mayo (Spanish for “fifth of May”). While such a move might seem a little unpatriotic, the government of California fears provoking hostilities between Caucasian students and those of Mexican descent. The United States annexed California from Mexico in 1846 and made it the 31st state in 1850.
In 2011, the French government banned students from bringing ketchup to school and college cafeterias. The decision was aimed at preserving French cuisine and improving the health of the nation’s students. "France must be an example to the world in the quality of its food, starting with its children," said Bruno Le Maire, the agriculture and food minister at the time.
Bento box character art
Why would any preschools ban adorable little bento box characters in children’s lunches, you might ask? Well, the Japanese government had a good excuse, raising concerns that the time it takes to form the little characters may contribute to food contamination and even poisoning. Another worry was that parents’ were not preparing the lunches with gloves on. In other words, the adorable little bento-person may be a nesting-ground for bacteria.
In 2012, Connecticut’s Meriden School Board of Education slapped a ban on tight fitting pants such as jeans and leggings. The school, noted for its strict uniform regulations, enforces a dress code whereby its students are prohibited from wearing anything that might distract other students from learning.
Father’s Day cards
Some schools in Scotland prohibit students from making Father’s Day cards because it shows disrespect for other children who live with single mothers and lesbians. Family rights campaigners have condemned the policy as "absurd”, arguing that it marginalised fathers. However, local authorities said teachers need to react to "the changing pattern of family life". Despite the rule, Mother’s Day cards are fine.