You walk up to your teacher with a mind-boggling question on your mind. Midway through your sentence, you see that teacher rolling up their sleeves, and you catch more than a glimpse of a spiraling tattoo. You pause a bit before going ahead to ask your question. However, you can’t get it off your mind.
The scenario above indicates the modern world where getting a tattoo seems like a simple life decision. Mostly, such a decision isn’t as straightforward in the teaching profession. Why? There are often strict rules on teacher conduct and appearance.
Whether you’re considering a career in education or wonder if teachers should sport tattoos, many school systems in the United States do not permit it. Hidden or less visible, school policies on tattoos matter. So are teachers allowed to have them or not?
Can Teachers Have Tattoos?
No. The answer isn’t far-fetched. Since school leaders and employers can base their hiring decisions on whether you have tattoos, you can’t have them. The rules will probably form part of their dress codes, and visible tattoos are ruled out if it doesn’t.
Further, your chances of being discriminated against increase when you have one. However, if you are already marked, there’s no need to panic. Keep it to yourself, especially where it’s stated that you can’t make it visible to pupils or students.
In the same way, if you already work for a school and want to get a tattoo, you will want to review their staff guidelines before getting your ink.
Overall, teachers are professionals and should present an image of discipline and professionalism before anything else. The first thing people notice about you is your physical attributes before your abilities and mental capacity. That’s why your life as a teacher includes a significant part of your appearance in the discharge of your duties.
Whether positive or negative, tattoos on you can affect your prospects as a teacher. Also, the school will always set the tone for what’s applicable in their institution. That includes allowing teachers to have tattoos or not. Now that you know this much about having tattoos as a teacher, it’s easy to decide.
What Does the Law Say?
Not quite. You’ll struggle to find clear-cut legislation on the issue or body arts. However, the Equality Act 2010 urges employees not to discriminate against staff based on certain protected characteristics.
This includes age, race, sex, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, religion and belief, and sexual orientation.
Unlike religious markings, body art isn’t a protected characteristic under the act. What does this mean for teachers with tattoos? It means employers are free to make hiring decisions based on the presence of tattoos, especially where visible. They can also implement dress codes that cover up tattoos where they’re likely to upset students and their families.
Teachers with Tattoos: It Shouldn’t Matter
Ordinarily, a teacher having a couple of tattoos shouldn’t matter to the next person. Here are some reasons why:
1. It Takes Nothing From Their Qualifications
Becoming a teacher takes some amount of time and training to build expertise. Teachers go through different levels of classes to help them acquire certifications and licenses.
Their tattoos and personal life choices won’t play a role in getting certified to practice.
2. It Takes Nothing From Their Ability
You’ll find teachers with top-notch abilities students simply cannot get enough of. Such individuals are keepers since they know their job and go about them professionally.
Having tattoos on any part of their bodies is a life choice they’ve taken. As such, the tattoos do not affect their ability to teach or remain professional before employees, students, and families.
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Why Teachers should avoid getting tattoos
1. The School’s Reputation is Questioned
Any potential employer will want full disclosure on certain parts of their employees’ lives. Having tattoos is often one of them, and since education is one of society’s most important sectors, employers must ensure that children are in the right environment. For these reasons, hiring tattoo teachers doesn’t immediately instill confidence in parents.
Parents are entitled to withdraw their kids if they feel a certain teacher puts them at risk. With the school’s reputation on the line, employers won’t hire teachers with tattoos.
2. Negative Stereotype
Typically, persons with tattoos are stereotyped by society. That goes up a notch when you are a teacher. With a tattoo, you’ll be judged on sight because society views tattoos as an indication of rebellion, dangerous living, drug abuse, and other social vices. Also, institutions might struggle to trust you.
Further, parents have their misgivings about teachers with tattoos instructing their children. Since parents are older, their perception of “cool” tattoos is bound to differ from that of their kids. As a result, they wouldn’t want that teacher near their kids.
3. Discrimination and Possible Termination
There are no laid down laws against teachers with visible tattoos. However, many educational institutions have policies governing teachers’ appearance. For this reason, teaching applicants with visible tattoos are rejected irrespective of their qualifications.
Some educational institutes take a more lenient and progressive view. They employ and allow teachers with tattoos to continue in their jobs but with coverings.
The tattoo, no matter big or small, must be hidden. Also, teacher applicants in courses that demand some exposure find getting hired difficult. Teachers who get tattoos may also breach school policy, affecting their employment.
4. Poor Influence on Students
Chances are you have a teacher(s) you remember fondly or look up to. That’s because teachers play a profound role in the lives of their students and leave impressions on them. Also, parents trust them to guide their children in the right direction. However, having tattoos creates some problems.
All of a sudden, many students want one! They’ll want to become more like their teacher since tattoos appear cool or have the potential to make them cool.
Besides, things could get awkward because children cannot decide by themselves. If your actions and choices can influence them, it’s best to avoid having tattoos.
5. The Unprofessional tag
Like other professionals, a teacher is expected to have and carry an image of professionalism. With a tattoo on your body, expect your working environment and many members of society to have some reservations about you. That’s especially the case when the tattoos are visible.
As a model professional, a tattoo detracts from your character, regardless of your ability to impart knowledge.
Does the Type of Tattoo Matter?
It sure does! Nobody, including school authorities, wants to see gang signs and symbols flaunted before them and, worse, in front of students. For example, explicit signs indicating indecency will immediately paint you in a bad light.
Conversely, a simple tattoo of something you’re fond of can sometimes sail. If it’s something big, vague, or provocative, it’s best never to mention it and ensure it’s hidden from public glare. If you must have a visible tattoo, ensure that:
- It’s not gang-related and does not represent your political views,
- Sexually-explicit tattoos are a no-no,
- It’s free from religious controversies
Whether positive or negative, tattoos on you can affect your prospects as a teacher. Also, the school will always set the tone for what’s applicable in their institution.
That includes allowing teachers to have tattoos or not. Now that you know this much about having tattoos as a teacher, it’s easy to decide.
Can you have one? Sure! But if you must, ensure it’s always covered at school. This way, you do not go against school policies.
Sam is a brilliant young Nigerian biochemistry student and an aspiring entrepreneur. Despite facing many challenges, he has never lost his passion for learning and drive to make a difference in the world. Read more about him here.