A Sikh boy was forced to a shave off his beard by a school in the Australian State of Victoria, sparking an outrage among the Indian community which accused the institute of religious discrimination, a media report said on Thursday.
The boy studying in Class XI at a school in Melbourne was forced to shave off his beard, Harkirat Singh of the Sikh Federation of Australia was quoted as saying by ABC Radio.
Early this week, Mr. Singh said he was contacted by the parents of the student who was forced to shave off his beard.
The Sikh Federation, according to the report, said (the school’s action) had left the boy feeling depressed and embarrassed, and amounts to bullying.
Helen Szoke, the Equal Opportunity Commissioner, was contacted who said there was a need to be clear and wide consultation to take into account race and religious beliefs at schools.
The Victorian school has apologised for forcing the Sikh student shave off his beard against his religious beliefs.
The school’s principal, who wants to be known only as Paul, said the teacher involved did not know the school had earlier agreed not to make the boy shave.
“Our process has brought us to the conclusion that facial hair will be permitted by the Sikh boys at the school,” he was quoted as saying.
“I apologise for any harm that he might have felt or any hurt that he might have felt. That’s not our intention, to cause harm to anybody,” he said.