Student sues government after school forced her to dye her hair black, she claims

A Japanese teenager is suing her local government after her public high school forced her to dye her hair black, the student alleges.

The teenager, whose name has not been released, was a student at the Kaifukan School in Habikino City, Japan. According to local media, the school has a policy that all students must have black hair to attend.

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Unfortunately, the 18-year-old had naturally brown hair. The suit says that the student’s mom reached out to the school before her enrollment, informing them of her daughter’s lighter hair color. Though she ensured her daughter’s hair color was natural – some schools in Japan force lighter-haired students to prove their hair color by carrying photos of them as children – the school still forced her to dye her hair black to conform to the rules.

Now the teen is saying that the hair dye, which they forced her to do as often as every four days, left burns and rashes to her scalp.

“The dyeing damaged the health of the scalp and hair,” the plaintiff claims. “[Natural] physical features were negated and mental anguish resulted.”

The family is suing the Osaka Prefectural Government for 2.2 million yen (about $19,300) in damages she incurred from the hair dyeing and abuse.

This comes after they tried to file a complaint with the school once the incidents occurred. The complaint was dismissed and the student did not return to school beginning September 2016.

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Masahiko Takahashi, the head of the school, declined to comment on the open case, but he did confirm that the school has strict rules about hair and dress code. He also said the school has a ban on bleached or lightened hair, but would not confirm if dyeing the hair black is allowed.

The Asahi Shimbun newspaper writes that the schools force the students to have dark hair to “protect” them from being berated by school officials, since light hair is seen as abnormal in Japan.