How should schools handle piercings in their dress codes?
Voice your opinion on the Round Table topic in the Reader's Response section.

former staff member of BME's QOD, moderator of the BME mailing list, apprentice at Stainless Studios in Toronto. Interviewed on Modified Mind.

Here in Canada there are three sets of school systems (as well as home-schooling)... These are the public system with no dress-code per se, the catholic system with some codes of dress, and the private schools which of course have strict dress codes. Having only attended public schools, I agree with the way things are generally run. There is occasional talk of administering certain rules such as 'no vulgar t-shirt slogans' and the like, but nothing as far as I know which relates to piercing, hairstyles, etc. I had my ear pierced for the first time when I was 4 or so. My little brother had his ear pierced twice by the time he was 7 years old. Neither of us received any grief from anybody, and I know that my parents would have supported us. I remember a 6-year old with a mohawk at my school (I lived in a working-class neighbourhood where I still believe people are less anal-retentive about most things). He was never told to fix it. People always recognized the two of us, and people still remember us because we were respectful students.

It's difficult to qualify or quantify, but I have the same mentality regarding piercings in the workplace as I do for those at school: 1) Don't over-do it, whatever that means, and 2) as long as your piercings are healthy and well-maintained, there should be no problems.

I can't see kids as complaining to a teacher that a piercing is distracting in a classroom, thus I don't think the policies will change for the worse any time soon. On an entirely different level, as we have seen with high-profile cases in the media, this comes down to an issue of self-expression, which in most countries stands in court.

For once, a lack of laws is probably beneficial.

the mind behind BME.

I believe that this is not something schools should handle at all -- they should neither ban nor allow piercings, as it is not their place to create legislation of any kind. It is an issue for parents, or if the child is of age, for the person to deal with themselves. The state has no right to interfere with personal expression that doesn't put anyone else at risk.

I should say though that there are a limited number of cases where piercings could put the student at risk (for example some sports). In these cases, schools could be liable if there was an injury. However, I do not believe that this should mean piercings be banned -- it simply means that the parent and student need to sign a release absolving the school of responsibility if an injury does occur.

Anyway, I wish I had more to say, but I really think this is a "no response needed" sort of question -- My feeling on this is simply that schools shouldn't have dress codes of any kind. They should focus on education, not conditioning.

moderator of the BME mailing list, photographer/reviewer for Modified Modified Mind. Featured in BME/Art.

Yet again, another question ripe for an open debate. Having not too much background on the Alabama case, I cannot question its stance, or comment on it with any relevance. I will, however, try to approach this from an Australian perspective.

To get a feel for this I took some time to surf around IAM. During my net wanderings, I found myself face to monitor with dozens of members who were of school age, with visible, and in some cases non-visible piercings. I began to ask myself why. The upsurge in younger people getting pierced is a topic for discussion in itself, and to try and explain it here wouldn't do justice, but I will try to put it all together. As far as I know, the legal age for piercings is still 18. I believe that it is 17 for procedures such as lobes, and other ear work, possibly 17 with parental consent for other work as well. From what I have seen and read though, there are a lot of younger people out there getting what I consider 'large scale' mods done. The increase over the last few years of younger people wearing tunnels, large gauge jewelry and the like is both a cause for celebration and a cause for alarm. The celebration, due to that fact that the art is now becoming more socially acceptable, and alarm due to the rise of piercers working illegally on underage patrons. Where do the schools fit in..? These are the places that are charged with taking an empty mind, and turning out productive members of a society. Don't laugh, it's pretty true, isn't it..?

Piercings in schools. I feel that there should be a set of guidelines drawn up on this point, but in saying this how can we draw those guidelines up..? What do we use a model..? This is where I get a little lost folks. How can we allow someone to attend school with a navel piercing, yet turn away a student with a septum ring? I feel that until the fundamental problem of piercing regulation is addressed, this debate will continue to rage. What right do we have to stop a child from attending a school because of a conscious decision that they, and hopefully they and their parents have made..? None. On the same note though, there should be limits set. The thought of little Timmy turning up after the school holidays are over looking like a poster boy for the pierced community are going too far. Recently a high school senior in my town was told to cut off his dreadlocks or be expelled. He refused to cut his hair, stating that he had dreadlocks for several years prior to the new Principal's arrival, and besides he was a top scholar and a fine athlete. The fight over this is still going on, with the new principal refusing to back down saying that "There has to be a starting point. We cannot give in to everyone, now can we?". This could be equally relevant to piercing. As I have said there needs to be a fairly big shake up of the entire industry before we can start to look seriously at this topic, but I feel that, in time, it will be sorted.

I am finding this hard to write, mainly due to the fact that I know what I feel is right, but I have a hard time expressing on paper. There are a lot of kids out there getting pierced due to "peer pressure" and the like. This is one reason I am at a loss for words. The thought that someone would look at a friend and say to themselves "If I get a navel ring I will be cool and popular too" scares the shit out of me, really it does. I know that there are people out there who will do this, and others who will think what I am saying is a crock, but this is what I feel people. I believe that there should be a blanket statement regarding piercing, but this is not relevant to schools, but rather to age of the person involved. Do not ask what I think this is, because I cannot fully tell you, let me just say that we should exercise our better judgment on this situation, and remember that we are in the public's eye. We are the ones that will eventually suffer from any form of backlash generated by this debate. The schools will move on, the students will change to the next fashion craze/fad, but we will be the ones left to hold the fort.

The Church of Body Modification states that Body Modification is a right, not a privilege. That to modify one's body is a birthright. I fully agree with these statements but add one of my own. We have to journey to find out who we are, to know where we are headed, and make the decision to follow that road. It's a long journey for some, yet shorter for others. We are individuals after all.

young mod enthusiast, staff member of Modified Mind.

Being English, I went to a school that didn't just have a dress code, it had a uniform. A brown uniform to be exact, with a brown pleated skirt and brown stripey tie and beige jumper. The school's rule on piercing was : one gold sleeper in each ear, and NO MORE. Jewellery, other than a simple watch band, was verboten too. The school's policy made sense in its inflexibility - there was no room for fashion or personal taste included in it. And guess what? It didn't kill me -- I resented it, we all subtly tried to fight it, but it eliminated a lot of rivalry and snobbishness over who had the best shoes, the most expensive clothes etc. Therefore I think that in that context, a limit on body jewellery is not a bad idea -- especially as school children are mostly not of legal age to get piercings.

If I had been brought up in a society where I had been able to wear exactly what I liked to school, I would probably have different views and be more defensive of my right to wear exactly what I wanted. However, I believe that schools have a right to impose a sensible standard dress code as long as it is universal and not unnecesarily trivial.

staff member of Modified Mind. Featured in ear scalpelling video on BME.

Being affected by this personally, my last year of high school, I feel that it's an issue that schools should definitely leave alone! Private schools are one thing, but public have no say on it. My high school didn't allow anything other than one ear piercing on a guy, or four ear piercings and nose piercings on girls. I was often threatened with being suspended for having two earrings and having my eyebrow pierced. The school's reasoning for their rules was because body piercings were deemed "distracting"

I feel that if public schools leave the idea of rules regarding body piercings alone, the "problem" would simply go away. If you don't make a big deal about it, neither will anyone else. Schools have much more important things to worry about, this day and age.

mod enthusiast, assisted in Loco interview for Modified Mind.

They should allow them because it is a freedom of expression. To deny the freedom of expression means that we are categorizing those with mods as "not appropriate behavior"- and that isn't right at all.

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