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School accused of sexism over charity head shave

By Natalie Tipping

A teenager who shaved her head to support a cancer charity was shocked when she was told to cover her baldness at school.

Maddie Santon-Williams chose to brave the shave in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support, which had been instrumental in helping her mum, Sue Williams, through a battle with bowel cancer.

Maidstone Grammar School for Girls pupil Maddie said: “The charity is very close to my heart. My mum was diagnosed in August 2015 and got the all-clear in April 2016.

Maddie was told to cover her head after she shaved off her hair
Maddie was told to cover her head after she shaved off her hair

“She didn’t lose her hair, but it was a very difficult time and Macmillan helped her a lot.”

The 17-year-old shaved her head on Saturday, July 15, and has already smashed her fundraising target of £500 by raising £800.

But when she went to school afterwards she says she was told to cover her head.

She said: “I was verbally told to cover my head in order not to offend anyone by a member of the sixth-form management team, who said she was passing on a message from the head teacher.

"I have now had a conversation with the headmistress, and she said she does not find it offensive but would still like me to wear a headscarf.”

Maddie, who lives in West Kingsdown, feels there is one rule for boys and another for girls, adding: “Last year a boy in the sixth form shaved his head and no action was taken, not even a conversation with sixth-form management. I think this is very sexist.”

Maddie Santon-Williams chose to 'brave the shave' to raise money for Macmillan after her mum battled bowel cancer
Maddie Santon-Williams chose to 'brave the shave' to raise money for Macmillan after her mum battled bowel cancer

Maidstone Grammar School for Girls head teacher Deborah Stanley said: “The school has a proud record of supporting and encouraging pupils’ participation in charity fundraising events.

"However, this has always been with prior notice and permission, as we have a number of pupils with various ongoing health issues.

“We therefore asked Maddie to cover her head while walking round the school, although this wouldn’t be necessary in the classroom or the sixth-form common room.

"At no time was she told that having her head shaved was offensive – we just explained the need to be sensitive about the possible impact on others.”

To donate to Maddie’s fundraiser, go to her page.

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