Melbourne Sikh family challenge ‘inclusive’ Christian school’s ban on boy’s turban | Sikh Vogue
- Edited by ABC NEWS
- Jul 25, 2017
A Melbourne family has launched legal action against a Christian school for banning their son from wearing his traditional Sikh patka, a turban worn by children.
Sidhak Singh Arora, 5, was due to start prep at Melton Christian College, in Melbourne’s north-west, this year.
But his patka does not comply with the school’s uniform policy which prohibits students from wearing any type of religious head covering.
His family have taken their fight to VCAT, claiming the school had breached the state’s Equal Opportunity Act by discriminating against their son on religious grounds.
Outside court, the boy’s father Sagardeep Singh Arora said he was surprised the school would not make an exemption for his son.
“I was very surprised in an advanced country like Australia, they are still not allowing us to wear patka in the school,” he said.
“On the basis of that they are not giving enrolment in the school.
“I believe students should be allowed to practice their religion and should be allowed to wear their article of faith.”
Sidhak has enrolled at another school, but his parents hope Melton Christian College will be forced to change its policy so he can enrol there instead.
The VCAT hearing was told the college had an open enrolment policy which allowed children of all faiths to enrol.
‘We don’t want children standing out as different’
Former college council member Stephen Liefting told the hearing they were inclusive of people of all faiths.
“As long as they don’t wear clothing that promotes other religions,” he said.
“We don’t want children standing out as different … we’re inclusive in the college.
“We don’t flippantly make an exemption because somebody wants to go against what we have as a policy.”
Principal David Gleeson gave evidence that a number of Sikh students attend the school but do not wear the patka.
“I think one of the real strengths of the college is that we’re blind to … everyone is blind to religious affiliations,” he said.
“Anything additional to the uniform isn’t allowed.”
Mr Gleeson gave an example of another student who liked wearing a New Balance cap but was not allowed to.
The college claimed it was not breaching the Equal Opportunity Act as there was not an exemption allowing it to enforce reasonable dress standards.
The hearing will continue on Wednesday.