'Stuck in the dark ages': Mum furious after daughter left out of graduation live stream

The family of an 18-year-old Year 12 student are outraged after she was allegedly bumped from her school’s graduation live-stream because of her dyed hair.

Sidney Riley, a student at Hervey Bay State High School, told her mum on Wednesday that a teacher said she wouldn’t be allowed to collect her graduation certificate because of her purple hair.

During Thursday morning’s ceremony, at which each student could have just two visitors in the crowd due to the coronavirus pandemic, Sidney collected her certificate but was not shown on the school’s Facebook live stream.

Sidney Riley shown in Hervey Bay State High School graduation uniform.
Sidney Riley was excluded from the school's graduation live stream. Source: Supplied

Sidney’s dad, sister and extended family who were watching intently from home therefore missed out on seeing her be recognised for her impressive achievement.

“I had instructed all my family to log onto Facebook and watch the live stream, but when they got to Sidney, they moved the camera over to the school captains and put a hand over it,” her mum Holly Riley told Yahoo News Australia.

“She was the only one that wasn’t shown.”

Mrs Riley tried desperately to reach the school before the ceremony to discuss what Sidney had been told the day beforehand but she was unable to speak with anyone.

Sidney was otherwise immaculately presented for the ceremony and had her purple hair, which was dyed as a birthday present in October, pulled back into two plaits.

Part of the school’s policy states that students should have natural coloured hair, however this rule had always been loosely upheld, according to Mrs Riley.

She said students had often gone to school with different coloured hair, which made sense among senior students, particularly given there were some doing hairdressing traineeships.

It also wasn’t uncommon for male and female students at the school to have facial piercings, excessively long hair or tattoos, Mrs Riley said.

A teacher on stage at Hervey Bay State High School's Year 12 graduation.
The person filming allegedly covered the camera with their hand until Sidney left the stage. Source: Facebook/Hervey Bay State High School

“Sidney has a job and goes to work with her hair like that, and they don’t have a problem with it. It’s not a reflection on what kind of person she is,” she said.

Mrs Riley argued that her daughter should be able to make her own decisions regarding how she chooses to present herself.

“How much longer do they have to be stuck in the dark ages? You can’t tell a child that they have to be a clone then ask them to be an individual.”

Yahoo News Australia has contacted Hervey Bay State High School for comment on the matter.

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