Father fights for five-year-old son to wear turban at Melbourne Christian school

Father fights for five-year-old son to wear turban at Melbourne Christian school

Sargadeep is a father fighting for his son.

The traditional Sikh man is battling a Christian school that he claims refused to enrol his five-year-old boy if he wore the child’s version of a turban, called a patka, or grew his hair long.

The school, Melton Christian College in Melbourne’s west, insists it has the right to set the uniform its students wear.

The arbitrator of the case will be the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, but it will be closely watched as a test case by the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission.

Sagardeep Singh Arora says the school is breaching the Equal Opportunity Act and is discriminating against his son, by not allowing him to wear the patka – an essential part of his religious practice.

He wants his son, Sidhak, to attend the Christian school because of its good reputation.

Sidhak’s cousins already attend the school, although they do not wear turbans.

“The police and the army allow Sikhs to wear the turban … why not in the classroom?” Mr Arora said.

Sagardeep Singh Arora whose five-year-old son wasn't allowed attend Melton Christian College, because he wears a patka. Photo: Joe Armao, Fairfax Media.

Sagardeep Singh Arora whose five-year-old son wasn’t allowed attend Melton Christian College, because he wears a patka. Photo: Joe Armao, Fairfax Media.

“If you’re enrolling a student from a different community, you should allow them to practice their religious beliefs … they should not be forced to abandon their faith.”

But the school’s principal David Gleeson told the tribunal he was proud of the “neutrality” of the uniform, and said the case was similar to a situation where a Year 11 student was not allowed to wear a hat from sportswear brand New Balance.

“He’s identifying himself as something other than the identity of the college and that creates a difference, that takes away the level playing field for himself and other students in the school,” Mr Gleeson said.

He said racial and religious differences between students “have no relevance to the classroom, in the playground, at school events, and that’s because differences are invisible”.

“I see our students in the playground and I see them totally oblivious to one another’s racial or religious background,” he said.

“They play foursquare together, and if I picture that I have to call to mind that some of them are African and some of them are Indian and some of them are white Aussies … as a school we tend to be oblivious to that and I think that is a strength … that comes from … [the] neutrality of the uniform.”

The school argued that an exemption in the Equal Opportunity Act, Section 42, allows schools to set and enforce “reasonable” standards of dress for students.

The matter has been viewed by the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission as a test case for Section 42.

The school has also relied on another exemption, that allows a school that is “wholly or mainly for students of a particular sex, race [or] religious belief” to turn away students of a different group.

Lawyer for the commission, Elizabeth Bennett, told the tribunal this exemption was designed to be inclusive, not exclusive.

For instance, the exemption would allow a school for students with disabilities to exclude students without disabilities but it did not allow for the inverse.

“It is intended to allow a group to include those it seeks to advance,” she said, arguing that even if the school enrols other Sikh students it was discriminatory to exclude Sikh students who wore turbans.

“It’s an attempt to rely on the exemption selectively.”

Ms Bennett said the school was in effect saying that “we’re happy to have Sikhs who don’t make any trouble, who don’t manifest their religion in any way that makes me feel uncomfortable … we’re happy to have Sikhs as long as they stay at the back of the classroom and don’t make any trouble.”

Sidhak currently attends a state school, where he is allowed to wear the turban.

The hearing continues.

Online Source:


More in Community

Love For Love’s Sake

Twinkle GhoshMarch 6, 2018

Sri ‘Diva’ No more

Aarti Kapur SinghMarch 6, 2018

Healthy Obesity: Fact or Fiction?

Madhusmitha KrishnamurthyMarch 6, 2018

Bollywood’s First Female Superstar Sridevi Passes Away at 54

The Indian TelegraphFebruary 25, 2018

Top of the Class

Rekha RajvanshiFebruary 20, 2018

New Laws Protect Students From Sexual Predators

The Indian TelegraphFebruary 20, 2018

From Baahubali to Butter Chicken: Prabhas Unplugged

Aarti Kapur SinghFebruary 20, 2018

Pink Or Blue?

ManasiFebruary 20, 2018

The Curious Case Of Anant Ambani

Twinkle GhoshFebruary 20, 2018

Time for a “SAVE ADANI” yet?

Vish ViswanathanFebruary 7, 2018

Bollywood Gupshup

Aarti Kapur SinghFebruary 6, 2018

Australia, Its Refugees & The Moral Depravity Lurking Within

Pankaj YadavFebruary 6, 2018

A Dream Worth $50,000

Shivani SinghalFebruary 6, 2018

Tadasana: Be As Sturdy As A Mountain

Susheela SrinivasFebruary 6, 2018

Endgame Adani Or Far From It?

Shivani SinghalFebruary 6, 2018

NSW Encouraged To Celebrate Safely This Australia Day

The Indian TelegraphJanuary 25, 2018

In The Name Of Guns, Cannabis & The Holy Yoga

Twinkle GhoshJanuary 25, 2018

The Gopi Factory & The Badminton Revolution That Is Here To Stay

Boria MajumdarJanuary 23, 2018

Were the No voters mistreated?

Pankaj YadavJanuary 23, 2018

Pride, Prejudice & Padma

Twinkle GhoshJanuary 23, 2018

THE KAPOOR WITH A DIFFERENCE: The Man, His Movies, His magic

Twinkle GhoshJanuary 23, 2018