Tattooed teachers

La - posted on 03/19/2010 ( 54 moms have responded )

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Tattooed teacher says ban is misguided
By Di Lewis (Standard-Examiner staff)


Last Edit: Mar 7 2010 - 11:27pm

OGDEN -- A new Ogden City School District prohibition of visible tattoos on staff members has Mark Johnson concerned the rule is unwarranted.

Johnson, an English teacher, has worked at Ogden High School for 15 years with tattoos that are visible when he wears a short-sleeved shirt. He also got a sleeve tattooed on his right forearm last year as a tribute to his wife and children.

Superintendent Noel Zabriskie said the ban on visible tattoos during work hours or school functions is part of a larger dress code that went into place in January after months of consideration.

It is not a board-approved policy.

The goal of the new dress expectations is to encourage employees to project a more professional image, he said.

While Johnson said he can appreciate the intent of wanting a businesslike image, he doesn't think a carbon-copy staff is necessary to achieve that.

"Covering up, to me, is burying and keeping the stigma of tattooed people alive," he said. "The goal of education should be to open, not to shut, minds."

While Johnson hoped he could be exempt from the rule because he was hired with the tattoos, Zabriskie said the district's legal counsel advised him to be consistent in applying the procedure.

Johnson said he has never heard complaints from students or co-workers about his tattoos.

"I think one of the goals of education is to open people's minds and my arm opens up more conversations with my students than anything else I do about who you are and what they mean," he said.

After disciplinary action was begun against him, Johnson said he has covered up for now, but hopes the district will reconsider or he may try to move schools.

A move would be a big loss to Ogden High, said Lisa Arango, Johnson's wife.

She said he is the only teacher of color in the school and students need to see good role models like her husband.

She said none of his tattoos are offensive, with no naked women or curse words, and her problem is the school seems to not be able to acknowledge his individual merits.

Johnson said he would understand if there were a policy to prohibit offensive tattoos, but an across-the-board ban isn't the way to go.

"I just basically think it's misguided," Johnson said. "They're trying to make a change, but I don't think that's where you start."
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So I've had debates about tattoos in the workplace already, and I still can't understand why some people are still so closed minded about the whole issue. We live in a society where we preach that "everyone's differences should be tolerated" and we set up laws about discrimination to protect both born characteristics AND chosen traits...you can be any religion, race, sexual identity, gender, size, etc but god forbid you have visible (non-offensive) tattoos. I fail to see how having tattoos can effect any person's work ethic or intelligence.

Most common argument I get: "Tattoos generally offend or make the older population uncomfortable..." I've heard plenty of the "older population" speak derogatorily about minorities and homosexuals too but we don't say "you can't work here if you are black or gay because some older people aren't comfortable with that either."

Another argument I hear: "Well tattoos are considered modifiable factors of one's identity because you CHOSE to get them so if you don't like the discrimination that comes with it then don't get them or you can cover them up." Well that's not a fair statement either. That's like saying to a gay person "I'm going to discriminate against you based on your homosexual actions and if you don't like it then don't act upon your born desires." They are born with a preference or attraction to the same sex and can choose whether or not to act upon those desires (because we have all heard of homosexuals who chose to have heterosexual marriages and mainstream families) just as a tattooed person is born with a preference or attraction to tattoos and can choose whether or not to act upon the desire to get visible tattoos themselves. Or what about a person's weight? We can't discriminate against a person for their weight, even though weight is a modifiable factor of a person's identity. We can't tell an obese person that we won't hire them unless they lose weight because we find their appearance "offensive", but we tell tattooed people to cover up their "offensive" appearance or we won't hire them.

I've even had people say that "employers making policies against tattoos in their dress code is within their rights just as it is within their rights to make wearing a uniform part of their dress code." The difference here is that my tattoos are part of my skin-they are permanent...clothes are not permanent. I can change clothes to wear a uniform and still be an identifiable member of that company without having to cover my tattoos. If you wanted to discriminate against a minority you couldn't tell them that part of the company dress code prohibits dark complexions so they have to cover up the permanent look of their skin. Tattoos are just as permanent as one's skin color . It doesn't matter that you chose to get the tattoos (and one cannot choose the color of their skin) what matters is that once you have the tattoos they are just as permanent. To say that you can "laser the tattoos off" is just as ridiculous and painful as telling someone they can go bleach their skin.

I'm in no way saying that it's ok to discriminate against any of the groups listed in the examples I gave here. I just feel that it is unfair to have tolerance and discrimination laws that don't protect certain groups when there is no good reason that people with tattoos should be treated differently. I fail to see how tattoos take away from a person any more than dyeing one's hair, having gastric bypass surgery, or getting a boob job would take away from a person.

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La - posted on 03/19/2010

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But he is also fully aware that if there is a change in administration who has a policy, then he has 2 choices: comply or find a new job. But what about facial tattoos that may interfere with the learning process?




Who decides what interferes with the learning process? I had a teacher with a horrible toupee...that was very distracting. Had another teacher in a wheelchair...kids constantly made comments about that too. Or what about that female teacher with the 7 inches or painted on eyeshadow and large breast implants?...boys found that distracting. Is the school district going to tell them to remove clown make-up, hair pieces, wheelchairs, and silicone? Again, I don't see why tattoos are specifically discriminated against when there are other parallel examples of things that are protected from discriminatory acts.

Cathelijn - posted on 03/21/2010

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I want to start by saying I don't have tattoo's so maybe I don't know what I am talking about. Having a tattoo is a choice it is not like being black or being gay. You choose and pay to have it done. Everyone knows having a naked lady on your arm or a big spider web tattoo in your neck is going to revoke prejudice from some people.



I don't see an issue with covering it up for work, what if I was a nudist? Could I come to work and be naked??



People always tell me they have tattoos for themself so why is it an issue if your work requires you to cover them they are still there, the man is not being asked to have them removed by a laser?? He can show them all night all weekend all hollidays just not in his job.



This is what it means to be an employee, you do what you have to do to keep your job.



I have to wear black, blue or brown suits to work I don't want to especially in summer time but I do it because I have too!



A while ago there was this story about a british airways cabin crew member who was told she could not wear her necklace with a cross over her uniform. She started complaining saying her faith was discriminated against. She knew when she started the job she wasn't allowed, it is a uniform a dresscode. I just don't see the issue...

Esther - posted on 03/19/2010

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I have to say I started reading this thread and although I personally don't like tattoos, I was all supportive of a teacher being allowed to show his tattoos (although I do think I'd draw the line at facial tattoos). But then the comparison between homosexuality and tattoos came and that's where you lost me Laura. I actually found that comparison quite offensive. There is a big difference between WHO you are and WHAT you like. There is a great degree of difference in the level of "choice" involved. Many many many many people have committed suicide because they were forced to live in the closet or were made to feel ashamed of WHO they are. I don't think there are any such statistics on people being denied a dragon on their ankle.



Anyway, back to this specific situation, I personally think this teacher should be allowed to show his tattoos. As long as they are not offensive, I have no problem with it. I do think employers have a right to have a dress code however. The way you look can be directly related to how well you can do your job. For example, I do not wear any make-up generally speaking so I'd make a horrible sales person at Sephora. A woman wearing a burka probably wouldn't go over well in a beauty parlor, etc.

[deleted account]

No, tattoos don't take away from the person's ability to perform the job in the educational setting, but where do you draw the line? My anklet tattoo may seen less noticeable and less threatening than a co-worker of mine who does have a full tattoo sleeve. His tats do not impact his ability to teach. His building does not have a cover your tat policy, but he does spend the first day of school talking to his class about his arm, and no further discussion from then on. But he is also fully aware that if there is a change in administration who has a policy, then he has 2 choices: comply or find a new job. But what about facial tattoos that may interfere with the learning process? I was trained to be a professional and as such, I follow the policies set in place by the administration. Or, I look for a new job. Teaching means more to me than fighting about my tattoos.

La - posted on 03/22/2010

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A lot of people keep saying that tattoos should be covered because they don't look "professional", but why is it that tattoos can't be professional? Because you still believe that tattoos are only on people that are sailors and jailors? Because tattoos imply that you are a delinquent or ignorant? We are allowed to show ear piercings at work and that is not considered unprofessional- we can have permanent make-up or eyebrows tattooed on at work- we can even have clearly visible body modifications such as lip injections, face lifts, or boob jobs at work, but tattoos are the only body modification that are "unprofessional." I don't see how you can ban tattoos without banning other forms of body modification unless you are still holding discriminatory beliefs about tattoos themselves.

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My friends, my husband, and I all have tattoos. I think there a great way of expressing who you are, and I don't see why teachers should have to cover them. I have seen offensive tattoos in my opinion but whos to make the decision on what is or isn't offensive. People at church think my husbands tattoo of a gargoyle is demonic and I think it's great. I picked that on for his wedding present.

Lucy - posted on 09/17/2010

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I guess it is down to the head teacher to define the dress code for his school, and as a teacher I would follow the rules whilst quietly looking for another job. A school that is insistent on the teachers looking uniform is unlikely to be a place where individuality is generally discouraged, and that is not my thing.

In my opinion, only a rather shallow person would decide that a teacher with tats was not to be taken seriously or considered professional.

My brother is a very senior psychiatric nurse here in the UK. He has visible tattoos on his arms, legs, hands and face, about 10 or so visible piercings and massively stretched ear lobes (a couple of inches diameter, I think) and has never been asked to cover or remove them. He has also never had a complaint or had his professionalism questioned by another staff member or a patient, which is just as it should be.

Krista - posted on 09/17/2010

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I honestly just don't understand why someone would need to cover up their tattoos for work, as long as they're not offensive in nature. They're no more distracting than a bad comb-over, or halitosis, or bright Bill Cosby sweaters. Most teachers have their own personal quirks -- people get used to it.

Personally, I would have MUCH rather had a teacher with a sleeve than my old art teacher, who constantly smelled of coffee and garlic. Now THAT was distracting, and there was no getting used to it, like you would with a tat!

Paige - posted on 09/17/2010

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Most of the teachers I had (and keep in mind I graduated 4 short years ago) tattoos or piercings of some kind. The school I went to was fairly conservative about how their students dressed and had a limited dress code for their teachers ie no mini skirts, low cut tops or midriff baring tops. For the students for the first few classes with their teacher, they'd ask about their tattoos and it helped us get to know our teacher in a somewhat personal manner. It helped us see that they weren't just an authority figure, but that they also had a story to tell and that many of them had tattoos in memory of certain experiences in their lives. I personally have no problems seeing a teacher or even a banker with tattoos. If you want to put it simply, what they're doing is adding pictures to the words of their story, or at least that's how I see it. The only reason I would EVER take offense to a tattoo is if it had swear words, offensive symbols (like the swastika), or tattoos resembling sexual acts in highly visible parts of their body. Yes, that's adding pictures to their story, but to me those are not only highly personal, but can be quite controversial (like the swastika) resulting in raised tempers; those kinds of tattoos I believe should be on a hidden part of your body.

I myself went through a battle with a previous employer. I have a tattoo on my inner wrist, it's a circle with a trinity knot and 3 yin/yangs surrounding it. I got it because it had religious connotations to it and I got it at a time where I went through a very spiritual process. I didn't feel I needed to put it in a hidden spot because it had to do with my religion, but my employer disagreed. The Human Rights division in my area ended up agreeing with me, and I was allowed to show my tattoo with pride.

LaCi - posted on 09/17/2010

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I had a teacher in middle school with a tat that covered one of his calves. If anything, it just made him cooler, of course his personality already made him relatable and the fact that he was among our youngest teachers helped. We respected him more, we enjoyed him more than the boring old farts who taught our other classes, who cares if he had the tat? It's not a distraction.



I'm pretty sure I won't be able to dye my hair purple anymore (or any other color of the rainbow), have visible tats or piercings, etc, when I graduate and get a real job. It makes me sad, honestly. Who care's if my hair is purple? I don't have any piercings or anything, only because I think dealing with jewelry is annoying, and I didn't want a tat anywhere but my back so that would never show if I ever decided to get it. Its just the principle of it I guess, I should have the right to look however I want to.

Tracey - posted on 09/17/2010

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I have a dragon and a phoenix tattooed on my back which I can cover when necessary. The kids in class (age 6 - 7) love them and give them names, I also have a large area of skin pigmentation on my face which is far more distracting and offputting than my tattoos, would I be discriminated because of that, because it certainly doesn't make me look professional

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Many jobs here in the UK require tattoos to be covered. My husband works in a hospital and whilst he has no tattoos if he did he'd have to have them covered. I think it's just to make them look more smart and professional and I don't see any problem with it.

Lyndsay - posted on 09/16/2010

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I think that as long as the teacher doesn't have a giant pot leaf tattooed on their arm or something extremely offensive like "suck my dick, bitch", it shouldn't be an issue.

Jamie - posted on 09/16/2010

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I am working on my teacher degree. I have tattoos that would be visible with short sleeves and high heels. I don't have a problem covering them if I have to but I would have a problem at field day being outside with long sleeves and socks on. I have a problem with the heat. I just wish that in this day and age when a large majority of people have tattoos' that we could stop being discriminated against because of them. I understand about naked tattoo's, cuss words, pot leaves, stuff of that nature but if it is not something in this area I think it should not matter. I also have piercings and am fully aware I will have to take these out as well. In my school district the lunch room staff has piercings but the teachers are not allowed. I think that is not cool. That makes it look like it is ok for one but not the other. Also the area has a ton of teenagers with piercings and tatts and they are allowed to have them at school. I know teachers that have them as well and they are visible but I think that since theirs are smaller than mine I probably will be asked to cover mine for the job where as they don't cover theirs. I think if the military thinks it is ok, and they do, then other professions should chill out. I know military professionals that are highly respected and they have tattoo's on their hands. My husband is in construction and has tattoo's everywhere - except neck, head, and face.

Jocelyn - posted on 03/29/2010

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Lol @ Laureen
I technically have a tattoo on my face, it's one little star near my ear (part of a bigger tattoo), and NO ONE ever notices it!

Lea - posted on 03/29/2010

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I have to say, when I see someone with a tattoo it is distracting. Not necissarily in a bad way all the time. Sometimes its just interesting to look at and I might want to ask the person more about it, etc. I am highly in favor of uniforms in school because clothing and needing to have the *right* clothes / shoes, whatever, and looking at other people and comparing what they have (you know what it was like) and I would say that requiring teachers to have no visible tattoos because, yes, it is a distraction whether you like them or not, is a good thing. It also falls under that whole "professionalism" thing.

Sharon - posted on 03/27/2010

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Ok as usual - I posted first then read....

To the woman who has the scorp tat - um NASTY.

I like tats. I hate spiders, scorps, vinegerones, centipedes, milipedes, etc. Seeing a picture of one, or a tat of one will instantly bring bile to my mouth.

If I had to see it while you waited on me at a restaurant I'd be physically ill and you would have ruined my meal.

If I had to see it while checking out of a department store... I'd be sick to my stomach and less likely to shop there again.

Sharon - posted on 03/27/2010

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Tatoos are generally symbols. Symbols not everyone will understand. But one persons' symbol/statement may be offensive to another.

I, for certain, don't want to see the skin heads' nazi swastika tat.

I imagine, uber christian types, will not want to see your harry potter tatoo or and possibly even your unicorn tat.

If you look closely at that womans butterfly tat, you might see sexualized eyes staring back at you from the wings or possibly even a swastika in the center of the black dot.

Where would you draw the line? If you allow the person with the perfectly innocent butterfly tat, what about the guy with the barb wire tat around his neck?

Another thing.... not everyone takes good care of their tats. Honest to god I thought I saw a woman with a penis tatooed between her breasts at the store the other day. I thought I might throw up. Turns out it was just super wrinkly skin and shadows. Yeah ok that has nothing to do with badly taken care of tats... but if you don't keep your tat out of the sun, if you don't refresh it, its gets "muddy" looking, looks dirty, or gets wrinkled. I've stared at some tats and tried like hell to figure out wth they might be or might have been. ie. they aren't "neat" or "clean" appearing and for certain they disrupt any sort of a "uniform" appearance.

Tatoos are a personal statement. Not a portwine stain you were born with and can do nothing about.

Isobel - posted on 03/27/2010

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yeah...even I have to admit that...but she's a tattoo artist. She's never going to be hired as a banker...ever.

Isobel - posted on 03/27/2010

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ummmmmm...I think some tattoos show really bad decision making skills (Kate Gosslin anyone?) I don't like them on hands and necks or faces either (that woman that Jesse James slept with?)

all in all though, I don't see the big deal...as schools get more and more relaxed (teachers weren't allowed to wear casual clothing when I was a kid) the tattoo rules will loosen up too.

LaCi - posted on 03/27/2010

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My school had a no-visible-tattoo policy which applied to both the teachers and the students. It was applicable to teachers only because students would have thrown a hissy fit if the teachers could have visible tats and they couldn't

Personally I have no issues with tattoos and I don't think anyone should.

[deleted account]

im not a sailor or anything else associated with tattoos but they do look unprofessional in my opinion. when you get a tattoo you have to think of practical things like can it be hidden when i need it to be? i know if i go to a posh wedding or something i have to buy a long sleeve dress to cover my tattoos unless i want everyone to think im some crazy tattooed chick and nothing else. thats life he should accept it wear a long sleeve shirt and stop moaning

[deleted account]

I have tattoos im quite addicted to getting them lol but honestly i think teachers should look professional. If my sons teachers turned up every day to work in jogging bottoms and a scruffy shirt i would lose respect for them. They are expected to look smart and if they have an whole armful of tattoos it doesnt give a smart impression, its more likely to give people the impression he rides an harley on the weekends lol. Dont really think it would hurt for him to wear a long sleeved shirt, problem solved.

Johnny - posted on 03/21/2010

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Honestly, I have not read all of the responses on this topic.

My own opinion, just shooting from the gut, is that as long as the tattoos are not of an "offensive" nature (eg. sexual or cult-like) I have absolutely no issue with my children's teacher showing visible tattoos. I would not choose to tattoo myself, and I really don't like them that much. But I see them simply as a form of body art or adornment that is not inappropriate or unprofessional in any way. To me, opposing tattoos on a teacher is the same as being opposed to a teacher wearing mascara or pink lipstick. I do not feel that my child will be in any way harmed by a teacher's tattoos. I think that the school board is really over-stepping its bounds when decreeing what constitutes appropriate or inappropriate personal decoration.

And personally, I found my 5th grade teacher who always wore black lace bras under sheer white blouses was far more "inappropriate".

Amie - posted on 03/21/2010

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It's at the employers discretion. If a person wants it to be run differently, start your own business... or in this case, look for a school that is ok with tattoo's.

It really is a simple concept. Especially in the professional field. Professional's need to appeal to a broad range of people, being as neutral as possible is the easiest way to do this in a non offensive way.

Charlie - posted on 03/21/2010

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To be judgmental and shallow based on looks screams unprofessional to me , its a persons attitude and performance in their workplace that should be judged , a tattooed person looks just as dapper in a suit or pencil skirt and blouse, the more i read about people opposed to tattoos in the workplace the more i realize how good i had it at my school .

check this link out to view some of the most talented people in their field who are all lovers of ink and proudly bare it for all to see.
http://mag.rankmytattoos.com/ink-meets-i...

Rosie - posted on 03/21/2010

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i completely get that those are the rules so we must follow them. i just think it's ridiculous to judge somebody's professionalism based on their looks. looks should have nothing to do with it. if you look at it the other way, you can have the most proper looking, best dressed, great looking man, and he can still be a serial killer. doesn't really scream professional now does it?
i know that this is how it is, but seriously, a tattoo doesn't mean i'm gonna throw my morals out the door and start abandoning my job duties. i mean the tattoo is there whether or not it's covered, i still act the same way whether it's covered or not. you're right, that is how our society is, but i personally think it's effing pointless to judge somebody on the way they look. don't we teach our children to do the opposite? it's prejudice to me.

Lindsay - posted on 03/21/2010

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I would say that "professional" is dependant on where you are working or seeking work and what is defined in that particular setting. I was taught not to bite the hand that feeds you so if I'm working somewhere are seeking work, I will follow their standards. Or I will expect to lose my job or not get hired.



My dad has worked for AT&T since he was 18 years old. For the first 20 years, he wore what he wanted. A t-shirt and jeans or a sweat shirt and some comfortable shoes. But after he had been there so long, they decided to go with uniforms. He now wears button up collared shirts, slacks and work boots. I'd dare say it's not as comfortable but definately more professional. His prior attire didn't inhibit his work performance but they changed their policy. He still climbs the poles and crawls under houses to repair or install lines. But just as company policy changed, he had to comply or find another job.



People have the choice to do whatever they want with their bodies but that doesn't mean that the corporate world has to comply with what we like or don't like. I could get my nose pierced, tattoo my body and die my hair blue if I wanted. But I can't expect someone to hire me in a professional setting despite those things. Some places it's acceptable, some it's not. As much as people dislike it, people will judge us before we ever open our mouth. You could be the most qualified person for a job but if your appearance doesn't match what they want, they don't have any obligation to hire.

Rosie - posted on 03/21/2010

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i see no problems with visible tattoos as long as they aren't offensive. i also would have to say that he was hired that way and was allowed to show his body art for awhile before this new rule came into effect. making someone die of heat by forcin gthem to wear a long sleeve shirt in 90 degree weather seems silly to me, just to prove a point that they are professional.
i'd like people to start challenging what "professional" is. how is having a tattoo not professional? just because our society says so? i'd like unprofessional to be how a person acts, not what a person looks like. our society doesn't seem to think that fat people can be professional either, but obviously being fat doesn't equal being unprofessional. this is where prejudice people come from, from our societies stupid notion that they way you look has something to do with who you are.

[deleted account]

I also have to add that over that when I first entered Education as a profession in 1996, my mentor teacher specifically said that he was counting on "my generation" to bring the respect back to the profession. Sadly, I don't think that has happened. At some point, teachers were once thought of a white-collar respected position. Now, it seems that my field has been downgraded to a working-class position. So if I throw body modifications into the mix comparing a white-collar vs. blue-collar/working class, it is a no-brainer. Tattoos and piercings are more visible and more accepted in a working class position. When I say white collar positions, I am refering to anyone that actually has to wear dress clothing to work: suit, tie, dress slacks, dress, skirt, blouse, etc. doctors, lawyers, accountants, marketing executives, etc. And these are the people that do cover their tattoos in a professional setting. The teaching profession has slowly crossed from a respected professional to a casual employee. So how do I want my image to come across? As a professional, or someone casual? Whether a tattoo is a single, tasteful tattoo or a full arm, leg, breast, or back it still sends a visible message no matter what you do for a living.

Amanda - posted on 03/20/2010

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I have tattoos, and if a job says you must cover up them, and you want to keep your job then cover up!! Its insane to think that anyone would risk a job just to have the right to show their tattoo. I have no issues of teachers having tattoos or showing them. but if his school says no tattoos showed then he must follow the rules.

Jessica - posted on 03/20/2010

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I'm not a teacher but I have 3 tattoos and 1 piercing. I have a small scorpion on my shoulder, a tribal pattern on the top of my spine and a tribal rose just above my right breast. My piercing is on the lower right lip. I was told by an employment agency that I wouldn't be hired by anyone with them, but lo and behold, 2 years ago, I landed a job working for the NHS. I went into the interview respectably dressed and the ball taken off the bar of my lip piercing. The tip of my rose tattoo was still visible, but I guess it didn't matter as they obviously liked me in the interview. I don't think most employers actually care about tattoos and piercings providing you come across as decent and respectable! I have no doubt that if I had kept the ball on the end of my piercing bar and had worn a low cup top flashing my tattoos and breasts about then they would have had a different opinion of me. I agree that body art does not mean you are less capable of your job and in fact I think in the teaching industry it would help you get to know your students a bit better and they would like you more than the 'stuffy' teachers you can get. I know I got along better with and learned more from teachers I thought were 'cool'. Though I did with the cute ones as well. Oh how I miss Mr Reese *sigh*!!!!!!!

Charlie - posted on 03/19/2010

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I am not sure if i am fully getting you , please tell me if im not .

I dont agree that preference to tattoos or our image we use to express ourselves through clothing , piercings ect is born into us , i believe it mix of the environment , culture , and the beliefs we develop as a result of our surroundings as we learn and grow .

Esther - posted on 03/19/2010

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Yes, you are definitely still losing me. That's like saying I was born being attracted to wearing pyjamas and therefore should not be discriminated against wanting to wear them to the office. Not in the same universe as sexuality or race.

La - posted on 03/19/2010

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I thought all the comparisons I used initially were clear, but there is some confusion about the comparison I made to homosexuals so I will try to word this as best as possible (this was much easier to articulate when I had this discussion with others in person). So a person is considered who they are (homosexual) because of what they are born liking (same sex) and it is unacceptable to discriminate against someone for this preference. They are born with these feelings and will continue to have these feelings whether they choose to live openly as homosexuals or whether they choose to engage in heterosexual relationships (such as Govenor McGreevy who married and had a long term sexual relationship with a woman). So if someone is born with a certain preference or attraction to certain types of people and this is protected by discrimination laws, why is it not fair to say that certain people may be born with a natural preference or attraction to tattoos and that by acting on this natural born preference (by getting tattooed themselves) they should not also be protected against discrimination when they do what makes them feel most true to themselves. Am I still losing people on my explanation? I'm not belittling homosexuals in any way or taking away from prejudices they have faced, I just feel that a comparison CAN be made to protecting their born preferences and ways of expressing themselves (you cannot tell a lesbian she can't wear men's apparel for example) and not another persons born preferences (you can tell someone not to be tattooed.) If anyone feels offended by this comparison, sorry but it isn't meant to put anyone down and I stand behind it.

JL - posted on 03/19/2010

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I completely understand having dress codes for Occupational health and safety reasons. I also understand having dress codes to promote a professional environment. I have tattoos and when I taught we didn't have a dress code that included covering up our tattoos or peircings and a good amount of teachers had tattoos and piercings. Bascially our dress code was about not wearing low cut tight shirts and mini skirts. Our dress codes were mainly about not exposing ourselves..no arses or boobs hanging out.



I don't see the need or point of having anyone cover up their tatt's unless they are blatantly offensive and inappopriate like naked ladies and swatikas. I do however understand that the principal has the right to make such dress code rules..even though I think at this point we should be past the dumb idea that having a tattoo means you are some how unprofessional. HELLO tattoos are main streamed now.Just look at the reality shows, magazines and websites dedicated to them.



I don't get the comparison to homosexuality.

Sunny - posted on 03/19/2010

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holly- i did get my tongue pierced for the reason that no one could see it unless i showed them lol. I know i could get one somewhere but im not sure where.... any suggestions lol

Charlie - posted on 03/19/2010

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I was a teacher who had visible tattoos before my boy came along , fortunately i had a boss who although didn't like tattoos personally appreciated and celebrated everyone's differences and allowed us to show our tatts and piercings proudly , of all the staff 30 % were tattooed and 80 % pierced , the kids loved discussing our tattoos and the parents had no problem whatsoever they saw us as their kids teachers , and good ones at that .



I understand dress code for Occupational health and safety reasons but tattoos do not affect any of those and are a lifestyle choice we made and one we wear proudly and that is where i disagree on the comparison to homosexuality , it is not a choice .



Other than that i agree that unless it directly affects health and safety issues at work it shouldn't be an issue .

[deleted account]

Sunny, I used to teach ballet to small children too (3, 4, 5 & 6 year-olds), plus I took over 10 hours of classes per week (all kinds of dance). So, I had to look "proper" for the kids and I had to be able to cover my tattoos for recitals, competitions and such. I just made a point of getting my tattoos in places that wouldn't show (back and lower stomach as I said before - most of the body is covered by a leotard) - so go ahead and get one if you like! None of my student's parents ever even knew of my tatoos unless I told them :)

I also was in school to be an elementary school teacher (before I realized I couldn't handle it and changed my major) and I was told by the school I was doing my internship at that I was not allowed to have any visible tattoos. It was a dress code rule there and all teachers abided by it. No one ever made a big deal out of it, so I never thought twice about it. Honestly, I never thought the rule was offensive or anything until I read this thread (although I still don't think the rule is offensive).

To me, having a tattoo is not the same as having a different skin color because it was CHOSEN, not something you were born with. I think that if someone chooses to get a tattoo and they know that their career choices will not agree with visible tattoos then they should get their ink in a spot that's not visible. If you go get your tattoo with the fact that it may limit your career options in your mind, then I think everyone could find a place to put their tattoo that would be "acceptable" for their profession.

I know I am most likely in the minority with my opinion, but I really don't see how people can claim discrimination when they chose to get their tattoo in a highly visible location. Yes, I know it's within a person's rights to do what they wish to/with their body, but it is also within a company's rights to require their employees to abide by a dress/appearance code.

Sunny - posted on 03/19/2010

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I always wanted a tattoo but i teach ballet to very small children (3+) and there is not that many places where you can hide a tattoo in a ballet costume lol. Anyone who had a tattoo or piercing had to cover it with a tanned colored tape, it just seemed like too much of a hassle to me.I dont know what i think, it wouldnt bother me if my childs teacher had tattoos yet at the same time i have put off getting one because of my work.

[deleted account]

When I got my tattoos I made sure to get them in places that could be covered up very easily (my back and my lower stomach), BUT I knew that I would always be working in an office environment (since that's what I'm good at and I actually enjoy office work - I actually miss it on the weekends...) and I knew when I got my first one (at 19) that having a highly visible tattoo would affect my career options. BUT, I am from a very conservative smal town where tattoos are looked down upon and it's really hard to get a job with visible tattoos. I actually filled out a job application there once and there was a question that said "Do you have any tattoos?" I answered "None that are visible while wearing work clothes" and I STILL didn't get the job! Of course, I could have gone on and on about how that is a descriminatory question, but in the small town I was in if you raise a fuss because of somehting like that then everyone hears and no one will hire you, so I had to keep my mouth shut and deal with it. The place I work now doesn't care, but I still won't get any in highly visible locations because I just don't know what the future may bring job-wise.



I don't think it's discriminatory to ask people to cover their tattoos because I can aslo see it from an employer's side. A lot of people are still against tattoos and if a customer sees an employee with tattoos it may affect their decision to work with that company. Also, I can see where a school wouldn't want the teachers to have tattoos. A lot of parents might think that having teachers with tattoos "may" encourage their children to get tattoos as well and that is still something that many parents are against. I know my parents would have been mad if they saw one of my teachers with a huge tattoo because they would feel that the teacher, as someone kids look up to and admire (sometimes), is telling the kids that it's "okay" to have tattoos.

Jenny - posted on 03/19/2010

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Well Carolee, perhaps you shouldn't be such a bad ass and you'd stop gettin' in trouble!

Carolee - posted on 03/19/2010

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Okay... I worked at a Dairy Queen. We were all told that we could wear shorts. I informed them that I had a tattoo that covered my calf, and asked if it was still okay for me to wear shorts. They said that I COULD show my tatto... until I came to work with shorts on, and they sent me home saying that they were no longer allowing employees to show their tattoos! Mind you, three other employees had tattoos and were NEVER told to cover them up. What was the difference, you might ask? My tattoo is a dragon, and the other employee's tattoos were of things like stars, names, and flowers! Not only are people with tattoos discriminated against sometimes, but the tattoos THEMSELVES are as well.

La - posted on 03/19/2010

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permanent makeup is technically a tattoo, should they have to cover up their eyebrows? (just to draw them on again?)


HAHAHA surprisebrows (surpr[eye]brows)

Jocelyn - posted on 03/19/2010

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While I agree that the principal has the right to enforce a dress code, I don't believe it is right. Tattoos in no way affect a teachers ability to teach. As long as they are not offensive (ie swear words, naked boobs, anything hate related) then I don't see how they can be a problem. Banning visible tattoos leads to a grey area; permanent makeup is technically a tattoo, should they have to cover up their eyebrows? (just to draw them on again?) Would henna tattoos be allowed? What about cultural tattoos? That could be a form of racial discrimination.

[deleted account]

"So long as the art itself isn't offensive, or you aren't displaying a tattoo in a potentially offensive place"

What would be a potentially offensive place that is visible? I understand breasts...but would hope that teachers aren't wearing revealing shirts to begin with!!! THAT would be a distraction, and hopefully against dress code!!! ...and not because of a tattoo either!

I worked w/a cook that had a sleeve tat and he was a cool guy! I think the tats that bother me are the "stupid" people who get crap like pot leaves on their NECK!!! Seriously, what kind of job do you figure you're going to have the rest of your life? Are your aspirations soo low that you think someone of a professional nature would over look THAT? I'm also not down for naked women, never seen it the other way (naked guys), but that's about all that bothers me! I kinda wonder about folks that are completely covered though...I had a tattoo and that shit hurt! I can't imagine getting them all over the place, and am doubting ever getting another one! But you probably aren't going to see your teacher neked so big deal...

Initially they might be a distraction, but no more of a conversation piece as how many kids do you have? are you married? where did you get your degree from? what'd you do this weekend?

I had a teacher that had diabetes that always had mints @ his desk, kids would eat them too, sometimes he was out and would need one right away & would ask the class if anyone had candy; that was pretty distracting! Another teacher was sleeping w/his student aid & was always flirting in class; that was HELLA distracting!!! After many students reporting the incident this teacher was allowed to finish the school year and the administration forced kids in the student govt to speak positively on his behalf to other schools because he was forced to leave (on good standing!) and he got a job w/another district only to sleep w/one of his students there too! Hell he was a distraction even after he left! We had a teacher once that if you brought up hunting in conversation he would talk about it the rest of class! With all the distracting things I've encountered in my education I think a teacher w/a tattoo would only be distracting until i heard about it and then would be significantly less distracting then the other teachers that would come into classrooms to talk about going and "chopping wood" over the weekend; which was code for going drinking, or the spanish teacher coming to class in the keyboarding teachers pajamas on PJ day during spirit week!

Jenny - posted on 03/19/2010

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I don't see the big deal at all. How are sleeves considered to be threatening? Keeping in mind they are on a teacher, not a leathered up biker. Although I know plenty of those guys and they are not threatening either lol.

Adrienne - posted on 03/19/2010

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I think that it's silly for someone to ask you to cover up a tattoo when it's not offensive. Like Laura says, most people get a tattoo for a reason and regard it as a permenant part of their skin. So long as the art itself isn't offensive, or you aren't displaying a tattoo in a potentially offensive place, you should be allowed to dress according to the dress code of the setting without being told you need to dress differently in order to cover up a part of yourself.

La - posted on 03/19/2010

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Sharon, I completely understand what you are saying about enforcing a dress code. My discrepency is that tattoos are as permanent as one's skin color and the discrimination people with tattoos face is based on negative stereotypes held by the people who "dictate" what the look or professionalism is. I'm just waiting to hear a good solid reason from someone WHY tattoos are "unprofessional" or WHY it is acceptable to tell someone to cover their tattoos, but not tell them how much weight they should lose, who they should be in a relationship with, what religion to practice, etc in order to "fit" acceptable company standards. Why is it ok to discriminate against tattooed people, when every other group of people are protected from similar prejudices?

[deleted account]

This issue came up during my School Law class and we examined the case study on it. Actually, it came up in several states for a variety of reasons such as native tribal tattoos to Holocaust rememberance tattoos. What I learned is that in most cases, a school principal does have that authority to mandate a faculty dress code. And, if that faculty dress code indicates mandates such as covering up all tattoos, men with long hair must be tied back, no capri pants, no open toe shoes, then that principal has the right to make those faculty dress code policies for that specific school site. I'm not saying it is right or wrong, but I know principals who do impose very specific dress code policies on their staff, including the tattoos. The Governing Board gives the principal the authority to manage faculty & staff in this manner. As a professional educator, my job is to follow the direction of my principal, not to challenge it.



If I were at Dr. Kathy Coleman's school, she does impose a "cover the tattoo" policy and her reasons are because the school and neighborhood is in a highly conservative section of town, and she feels that a teacher should have that professional look. She also asks her 2 male techers to neatly tie their hair back, out of the face. At Cathy Black's school, her dress code is for staff & students: tuck your shirts into your pants. That school has a school color dress code: navy, red, khaki, white. She also prefers her staff to model wearing school uniform colors and tends to favor those staff members that comply. At Kendra Adams' school, this turned into a huge school-wide staff complaint up to the Superintendent: she mandated no more capri style pants and cargo style pants, and no more open toe shoes. Well, being that this is Arizona and summer temps are well into the 100's, capri style pants and open toe shoes are a regular staple of our wardrobe. That was a long drawn out issue, but a compromise was made.



What I am trying to say is that while I may have personal issues about covering my tats, tucking in my shirt, or wearing closed toe shoes, I also have to understand that my principal has that permission to mandate a dress code. My job is to teach and educate, not challenge the teacher dress code. I have worked in all of the above principal's buildings, and have had to comply with each policy. At the end of the deal, it really isn't that huge of an ordeal.

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