In the midst of a recurring national debate about hairstyles and their acceptance in the classroom, Harold Lovell says the most important thing is the right of a child to receive an education, and this right should not be taken away due to hairstyle or hair length.
“This is 2022, not 1922, and we need to get with the times. Back then, there might have been concerns about hair length and hygiene; but today those concerns are no longer relevant,” the Political Leader of the United Progressive Party (UPP) says.
He believes the same rule should apply to all students regardless of the schools they attend: That hair should be clean and groomed regardless of length.
“This is not a new issue. In the 70s and 80s there was resistance by some to the Afro hairstyle,” Lovell recalls. “We overcame that and should not turn back the hands of time.”
Lovell, an attorney, notes that the matter of dreadlocks – the hairstyle traditionally worn by members of the Rastafarian faith – was litigated more than two decades ago.
He refers to the groundbreaking 1997 case of Franklyn Francis vs the Attorney General, in which he defended the late sportscaster known widely as King Frank-I.
“The High Court has recognized the Rastafari faith as a religion and, as such, [followers] are entitled to the protection of the Constitution,” Lovell says.
“The growing of locks is an important part of the identity of the faith. [Hence], there should be no discrimination against members of the Rastafari faith,” he adds.
He acknowledges that private institutions have the right to set their rules and standards; “but the Constitution is the highest law of the land and must be obeyed by all,” Lovell concludes.