While the majority of Victorian schools support students who wear the headwear, some teachers needed more understanding of Islam, the inquiry into Dress Codes and School Uniforms heard today.
The Islamic Council of Victoria in Australia is urging the inquiry to continue to allow Muslim students to wear traditional religious items as a "fundamental right" to freedom of religious observance.
Council executive committee member Sherene Hassan told the inquiry one Victorian student was told she would not be admitted to school if she wore her hijab.
"That individual was so keen to attend that school she decided not to wear her headscarf," she said.
In another case, a student wore her hijab in a class photograph, but it was airbrushed so it would not stand out, she said.
"You can imagine that was quite demoralising for the individual," Ms Hassan said.
Ms Hassan said that despite the best intentions of schools, teachers sometimes lacked understanding.
"There might be members of staff who have concerns about the hijab, who perceive the hijab to be a symbol of oppression, and those members of staff might make some disparaging comments towards those students who choose to wear the hijab," she said.
Ms Hassan said she believed it was reasonable for a school to demand headscarves match the uniform.
And there was nothing to stop Muslim girls from participating in sport or swimming, if schools allow them to wear tracksuit pants under netball skirts, or specially designed swimming costumes, she said.
"It seems to be a particular area of concern because certain schools tend to be a little more inflexible regarding the sport uniform," she said.
This was not confined to schools, she said.
"It took me two years to get my uniform approved. I now play Monday nights in a netball competition."
Any recommendation the committee makes should not conflict with the Victorian Charter of Rights and Responsibilities, she said.
Ms Hassan said the charter came into operation this year and gave people the freedom to demonstrate their religion.
The inquiry is examining the benefits and costs of school uniforms, views of the school community, and other matters including enforcement and whether policies are consistent with anti-discrimination legislation.
Source: Australian press
Last Mod: 04 Haziran 2007, 18:43