A secondary school student who had to shave off his beard or be sent to the principal's office believes his human rights have been breached.

But his school principal says the rules are clear and are agreed to by students and their families before enrolment.

Brody Hide, 17, plans to grow back the offending facial hair that teachers at Te Puke High School told him to shave off this week.

The Year 13 student grew the beard over summer and said the three-month growth boosted his confidence.


But after just two days back at school he had been repeatedly warned by teachers to cut the beard off. As soon as he obeyed he regretted it.

Without the beard Hide, who posted about his frustration on Snapchat on Tuesday night, said he felt like a 15-year-old "kid".

"I've always struggled with how I look. It [the beard] is such a confidence booster. It makes me feel more mature. It makes me seem like I am respected more, especially in my work place."

Hide works part-time as a waiter/bartender at Jellicoe St Bar and Eatery in Te Puke.

"The customers don't see me as a child. They see me as someone I want to be seen as, as someone who can express himself, as a man."

He said it was time draconian school rules changed to reflect a modern youth and the right to individuality.

Brody Hide with his beard before Te Puke High School made him shave it off. Photo / Supplied
Brody Hide with his beard before Te Puke High School made him shave it off. Photo / Supplied

"What is the point of having a rule against facial hair if it's not going to stop me from learning, or stop others from learning? It's not. It's just a stupid, silly rule to make us all look alike."

Hide's mother Lydia Brown said she had watched her youngest child "blossom" over summer as his beard grew.


"When I shaved his face for him it was like watching all his self-confidence fall on the floor.

"He's always done well at school. Having that facial hair just gave him such confidence in himself and now of course he's shaved it off and he's back at square one, and I just thought it was such an archaic view."

She likened the rule to "institutionalising" teenagers and said it seemed at odds with the current emphasis on building good mental wellbeing in youth.

Hide said he empathised with Auckland schoolboy James Hunt, who was forced to cut his long hair before starting at Auckland Grammar School in late January.

Hunt's family was considering a legal challenge of the school's hair rule under the Bill of Rights Act.

A 2014 High Court judgment in the case of Napier schoolboy Lucan Battison said schools needed to consider "whether or not any hair rule would breach a student's right to autonomy, individual dignity and his rights to freedom of expression affirmed by Section 14 of the NZ Bill of Rights Act".

Brody Hide feels like a
Brody Hide feels like a "15-year-old kid again" without his beard after Te Puke High School teachers told him to shave it off. Photo / Supplied

Hide intended to meet with Te Puke High School principal Alan Liddle on the subject.

In a statement Liddle said the school's policies and procedures on the issue were detailed in the school prospectus.

"When students and their parents/caregivers choose to enrol at our school, they sign an agreement with the school stating that they will abide by the rules and regulations of the school as stated in the prospectus."

Boards of trustees have the power to make and enforce school rules on a wide-range of matters such as uniforms and appearance, which can include hair length and facial hair.

"The board [of trustees] sets school policies that are reviewed on a regular basis. Students and parents/caregivers have the opportunity to present proposals to the board on ideas and changes they would like the board to consider. No proposal has been made to the board regarding beards."

Ministry of Education deputy secretary for sector enablement and support, Katrina Casey, said parents should ask about school appearance rules before they enrol their children.

"The Ministry does not have any policy about facial hair at school," Casey said.

"Schools are generally very clear about their expectations and rules and are very happy to explain them and respond to any questions or queries parents might have. This is important as it means parents can make informed choices when deciding which school to send their children to."

The Human Rights Commission could not provide comment before going to press.