My son has a nose ring. He's 15, and I see it as his business what he does with his body (to an extent, of course – tattoos are still out but a small hole will close over if he changes his mind. 'Love' and 'hate' would be on his knuckles forever.)
I'm big on the your-body – your-choice approach to parenting, and I like to give my kids agency over their own bodies as much as possible.
I know nose rings aren't for everyone, and I know many parents wouldn't allow their 15-year-old to have a nose ring, and that's all fine. Each to their own, and all that, but I'm confident and comfortable with my decision and my son is very happy with his face.
What I'm not comfortable with is my son's state school's ban on facial piercings.
They have a uniform policy, which he abides by every day, but they insist he also takes out his nose ring.
He's not allowed to wear a plaster over the top – it just has to be gone. The rule has been in place since before we started at the school, but to our knowledge it's never been enforced – and we knew of several kids who had nose rings so we weren't bothered. Then came the crack-down, six months after he started wearing the small silver ring in his nose.
It's not that I don't understand the importance of a uniform policy, but I just don't understand why this outdated rule is suddenly a big deal. My son is allowed to wear earrings if he wants to (which he does – an industrial and a conch – neither of which is your traditional lobe piercing), but facial piercings are out.
My son's school maintains it's a safety issue. It's a busy and crowded school, apparently, and if there's an accident, the ring could accidentally be pulled out and he could be injured.
I'm calling BS on that reasoning.
Even if an accident occurred, an ear piercing could just as easily be pulled out as a nose ring, but they're okay? Even traditional lobe piercings are a danger in the wrong situation. I'm still scarred from that time when I was a kid at a skate park, watching a teenager get caught by his earring in a game of Red Rover.
So. Much. Blood.
But these incidents are extremely uncommon, and my son is not your Red-Rover-on-roller-skates type, anyway. Also, you know, accidents happen. As far as accidents go, notwithstanding all that blood, a torn nostril is not life-threatening.
When did we become so risk averse?
The answer in this instance, I think, is that we aren't. It's just a convenient excuse to ban something that there is no good reason to ban, apart from an old-school (if you'll pardon the pun) conservative administration who find facial piercings a little on the unsavoury side.
Here's my take: my child is a good student who wears his uniform as prescribed, does his homework and tries his best. He treats his teachers and peers with respect.
This is what should matter.
State schools are provided by our government to ensure everyone has access to a quality education. They're not there to impose an outdated values system on our kids – they're there to educate them, no matter what they look like.
I fail to understand how my son's facial piercing impacts on his ability to learn – or that of his fellow students.
I'm doing my best to teach my children that it's their contribution to the world that matters, not what they wear or how they look. But it's pretty hard when they receive the opposite message from the school that is supposed to be preparing them for their lives and their careers.
For now, my son's strategy is to dodge the few teachers he knows that enforce the uniform rule. And I support him.