A teacher from the Paris suburbs whose entire body, face, tongue, and eyes are tattooed (sclera tattoo), claimed he was prevented from teaching kindergarten after a parent complained that his tattoos scared their child.
The teacher, Sylvain Helaine, 35, still teaches children from the age of six up and said that after an initial shock when they see him for the first time, his students see past his appearance.
Sylvain Helaine said he was disappointed to learn from administrators at Docteur Morere Elementary School in Palaiseau, France that he would no longer be teaching kindergarten.
A schoolteacher whose body, face and tongue are covered in tattoos and who has had the whites of his eyes surgically turned black said he was prevented from teaching at a French kindergarten after a parent complained he scared their child https://t.co/ulIcbAGqx9 pic.twitter.com/Ir4LWlGhCu— Reuters (@Reuters) September 28, 2020
“All of my students and their parents were always cool with me because basically, they knew me,” Helaine told Reuters, who estimated he has spent around 460 hours under the tattooists’ needle.
“It’s only when people see me from far away that they can assume the worst.”
Helaine was 27 years old when he started getting tattoos.
At the time, the educator said he was teaching at a private school in London and experienced an “existential crisis” that inspired him to get inked.
“Getting tattoos is my passion,” he explained to Reuters.
Everything was going fine for the teacher in Palaiseau until a parent of a three-year-old child complained that Helaine’s appearance frightened their toddler. The parent said their son, who was not taught by Helaine, had nightmares after seeing him.
A couple of months later the school officials informed him he would no longer teach kindergarten children, he said. “I think the decision they took was quite sad,” said Helaine.
A spokesman for the local education authority said an agreement was reached with Helaine that would discontinue him from teaching kindergarten. Pupils under six “could be frightened by his appearance”, the person explained to Reuters.
Despite the setbacks, Helaine said he would stick with his chosen career. “I’m a primary school teacher … I love my job.”
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The very inked man told Reuters that he hoped to show his pupils that they should accept people who are different.
“Maybe when they are adults they will be less racist and less homophobic and more open-minded,” he explained.