Tattoos in the classroom

A news article has been doing the rounds in the last day about an English teaching student who was demanded to cover up her visible tattoos for the first day of school. She had tattoos on her arms, legs and neck. Her response was that it was discrimination and that she shouldn’t have to cover them up – she showed them in the interview and it was fine.

There’s two points to consider here: this young woman has made a choice to change her appearance with permanent markings, while this school wants their teachers to look presentable. Is the school right to want their staff to be presentable and set a good example to their children, or does it really matter what a teacher has on their bodies? Should our grandchildren be taught by someone who has colourful designs on their arms and legs? Or is it irrelevant?

When we were growing up, only bikers, sailors and people from lower socio-economic backgrounds had tattoos. You were more often than not looked down upon if you had a tattoo anywhere on your body, even more so if you were female. Tattoos were and sometimes are still viewed as dirty and the sign of a uneducated person. While society has begun to accept them as the norm – 1 in 5 Australians have at least one – there is still a stigma around what professions we deem appropriate to have tattoos on display. Nurses, doctors, politicians, even teachers or anyone associating with the public are expected to cover up visible tattoos for work. They send a message of rebelliousness in a world where we are told to be like every other Tom, Dick and Harry. Tattoos are an expression of self but should they mean that you can’t be in the job you want just because you have them? We need more teachers in our schools so should we really be turning them away if they have a tattoo but otherwise amazing credentials?

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There are people who have tattoos you may not be able to see who have conformed to society. Is this the right way to go around having a tattoo during your working life? Or should society be allowing our teachers, the lady at the corner shop, your doctor or your dentist have a colourful design on their body without judgement or thinking it somehow impedes on their ability to do their job?

As parents and grandparents, we place trust in schools to employ educated and intelligent teachers who can give our children knowledge and skills they need, so does it really matter if they have a couple of tattoos? Or should they be setting an example for our impressionable young children? If the answer is yes to the last question, why does it matter if our children want to get a tattoo because they saw their teacher with one? Are we worried of how society will perceive them?

It’s a hot debate so we want to know your thoughts on tattoos in the workplace today…..