A naturally red-head school pupil has been barred from classes for being too ginger. Student Emily Reay, 17, has sported the same vibrant ginger hair for the last three years.
But on her return lessons following the Easter Break she was ordered to tone it down. Teachers at Trinity School, Carlisle, Cumbria, decided the colour was inappropriate.
Now, during her last year of A-levels, Emily - who is naturally auburn - has been told she is banned from lessons until she changes her appearance. Emily was informed of the action being taken at the end of Monday's assembly.
"I was very angry at first, and then burst into tears. I've had the same colour for the past three years, and nobody at school has commented on it," said Emily at her home in Carlisle.
Described as a stunningly talented musician, Emily maintains her ginger hair is her trademark. "Everybody knows me as that 'young ginger singer'. For me it is a confidence thing, If I had to dye my hair brown, I would lose this," said Emily. Her parents Julie and Andy Reay went to the school to discuss the matter with sixth-form headteacher Andrew Winter.
They claim they were told that Emily's hair colour needed to be changed by this Monday or she would not be allowed to continue her education. "I had to dye my hair to a more natural colour, or tone it down considerably," said Emily.
"I offered to pin it up, or wear a beanie hat, but I was told 'no' to both." Her parents are backing their daughter's decision not to change her hair colour.
"They had her in tears. They do not realise what her hair means to her. The irony is she is playing Scaramouche in the school's adaptation of We Will Rock You, which is about society suppressing people's creativity and self-expression," said mother Mrs Reay, 44.
"The school's uniform policy clearly states no unnatural hair colours, like blue or green. Is ginger not a natural hair colour?" she added.
Emily said: "I was told my hair had been a bone of contention since the beginning of the school year, but they had let it slip up until now. "But the laughable thing is my hair was brighter than this on prom night, and I won best hairstyle award."
Mrs Reay added: "Emily has natural auburn hair, but her hair has been this colour for so long now it is part of her. It's like living in the Victorian times. I would say her education is more important."
Determined not to miss out on important lessons, Emily, said she would return to school with her hair pinned up. "I have to hope nothing is said. It is too damaging a stage for my education." Sixth-form head Mr Winter issued the following statement: "Trinity School sixth-form students are role models for the rest of the school.
"We have a policy of maintaining high standards. All sixth form students are issued with information about what is acceptable or unacceptable at the start of the academic year. "The vast majority of parents are very keen on our high standards."