Brigham Young University Bans Beards, & 5 Other Bizarre Things Banned By Schools

Ladies (and gentlemen), if your ideal significant other sports a beard, then Brigham Young University is not the place to go to find a mate. Mormon institution BYU has a strict ban on facial hair, which is a bit ironic considering Brigham Young himself once maintained quite the beard, but I digress. The point at hand is that BYU's honor code, created in 1940, states that "men are expected to be clean-shaven," which makes beards absolutely unacceptable. But now, after seven decades of silence on the issue, BYU students are banning together to protest what they call an "outdated" rule.

On Friday night, a group of about 50 BYU students, or about 0.2 percent of the entire student populace, participated in a "Bike for Beards" protest. The students, some of whom neglected to shave in honor of the event, and others who decided to fasten paper or cardboard beards to their faces, rode bikes and unicycles, while others roller bladed around a statue of a (clean shaven) Brigham Young on BYU's campus. The group then revealed a petition that asks the university to reconsider its policy on beards.

Shane Pittson, a 23-year-old international relations major, told the Salt Lake Tribune, "I love BYU. I love being a student here. But the rule on beards, I find particularly outdated." While Pittson told the paper that he had considered organizing some sort of protest against the ban for years, he only recently decided to put action to his thoughts, creating a website and organizing the rally over the course of a few days.

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During the protest, Pittson did not have a beard, as he told the Tribune, "I figured it would make more of an impact to say, `I respect the university and here I am abiding by the rules but asking for change.'" And the time for change may finally be due. Back in 1971, then-university President Dallin Oaks already anticipated potential pushback to the 30-year-old rule, and said that he would not be surprised if the rule eventually gave away, according to the Huffington Post. But Oaks defended the rule himself, saying that beards (as well as long hair for men) gave rise to a "slovenly appearance" and were linked to "protest, revolution and rebellion against authority. They are also symbols of hippie and drug culture."

As bizarre as the rule may be, BYU's beard ban isn't even the strangest ban a school has instated on its student populace. Here's a look at just a few more strange things that schools have banned, both in the US and abroad.

dodgeball

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But what will they do during recess?! In 2013, the Eagle Tribune reported that the Wyndham School District in New Hampshire banned the dodgeball as well as other "human target" games in an effort to stop bullying. Surprisingly, this decision is one that is actually supported by the National Association for Sport and Physical Education, which has stated that it does not approve of dodgeball as an "appropriate" school activity. Talks about banning the sport have been in play since 2001, but the New Hampshire school district may have been the first to actually act upon these recommendations.

Holding hands

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Back in 2012, state senators in the great state of Tennessee decided that hand-holding was a gateway drug to the worst drug of all: sex. As such, they banned students from holding hands in schools, made it part of the sex-ed curriculum, and worse yet, threatened to fire teachers for demonstrating the practice. So yes, if an adult teacher was caught holding hands with anyone, the schools would have grounds to send them packing.

red ink

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Who says we're babying our kids too much these days? In Australia and the United Kingdom, schools have banned the use of red ink for grading papers because students find the color too "confrontational" and "threatening." Instead, teachers are to use "soothing shades like green, blue, pink and yellow or even in pencil." I actually had a teacher in Texas who abided by the same standard — she used purple, and by the end of the term, I hated purple as much as I hated red. Soon, we'll run out of colors.

best friends

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Another gem from across the pond — last year, a few schools in Kingston, South West London, and Surrey decided to ban their students from having best friends, though how this rule was enforced is beyond me. British psychologist Gaynor Sbuttoni explained the practice to The Sun, saying,

They are doing it because they want to save the child the pain of splitting up from their best friend. But it is natural for some children to want a best friend. If they break up, they have to feel the pain because they're learning to deal with it.

Teachers also justified the rule by saying that particularly for young girls, a "triangle friendships" often left one girl out of a close duo, leaving her hurt and alone. The solution? Make everyone alone.

words in general

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No seriously. Two years ago, the New York Post reported that the New York Department of Education banned the words "birthdays," "dinosaurs," "Halloween," and "dancing," in city-issued tests to do away with the "unpleasant emotions" some children might have in response to these words. The list of banned words is extensive, and includes "poverty," "divorce," "disease," "slavery," and "terrorism." What's next? "Fun?"

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