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Student challenges Catholic school dress-code

MacKillop College in the Melbourne suburb of Werribee is standing by its dress code's insistence that students be clean-shaven, despite a potential challenge from the Equal Opportunity Commission.

16 year old Chris O'Hehir has been suspended from classes since October for refusal to comply with the school's code that bans facial hair.

O'Hehir described the code as discriminatory because "teachers are allowed to have beards".

"I believe so much in what I am doing. I'm willing to give up my VCE for it so students in the future will go to the school without discrimination," he said.

Equal Opportunity Commission Victoria chief executive Diane Sisely said schools were entitled to set dress-codes and expect reasonable standards. But insisting that male students were clean-shaven at the expense of their health could go beyond what was reasonable.

"The right to an education shouldn't be compromised by a set of rules and attitudes about physical appearance that are inflexible and don't accommodate individual circumstances," Dr Sisely said.

MacKillop principal Rory Kennedy said that while he could not discuss individual cases, the school had a dress code that required students to be clean-shaven.

He said students who refused to comply were sent to the time-out room until the matter was resolved.