Getting a tattoo may seem like a simple life decision that shouldn’t affect any third party. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case in the teaching profession which can have strict regulations on teacher conduct and appearance.
Issues like teacher hair color and facial piercings are some hotly debated topics in the profession with the final decisions usually going to the districts or each respective institution.
Another hotly debated topic is whether teachers can have tattoos or not. This topic is especially important as it seems to cut across various industries besides education.
While sporting tattoos in times past immediately presented an image of a person with questionable behavior to outsiders, it’s become quite acceptable to some degree in recent years.
And although the general perception of rebelliousness when someone is seen with tattoos has significantly decreased, it’s still seen as unprofessional in many industries including education.
Understandably, the perception of these professional bodies over employees with tattoos continues to improve positively, howbeit slowly as the perception of the more matured individuals in these organizations can be difficult to change.
In the teaching profession, some have even gone so far as to say that a teacher’s appearance (no tattoos, hair color, or facial piercings) should signify their dress code especially since students are forced to follow a dress code.
This article will look at some of the questions surrounding teachers and tattoos and provide some insight and relevant answers.
Are Tattoos Acceptable in The Workplace
Let’s begin this discussion by taking a look at tattoos and workplaces in general. Tattoos have long been frowned upon at workplaces not only inside the United States but globally.
Any potential employee identified with visible tattoos was stereotyped as rebellious, unintelligent, unstable and prone to drugs. Potential employees who were able to hide their tattoos were more likely to be hired than those sporting visible tattoos.
And while this negative outlook has improved significantly over the past few decades, most institutions still hold reservations against their employees’ meeting clients or showing up to work with visible tattoos.
Tattoos that can easily be hidden are now tolerated in many professional settings but visible tattoos remain an issue with some employers. Unfortunately, there’re no regulations preventing employers from making their hiring decisions based on visible tattoos.
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United States On Employee Tattoos
The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) deems it illegal to discriminate against an applicant or employee based on their color, race, religion, sex, age disability, or genetic information.
Great Britain on Employee Tattoos
Employers are not permitted to discriminate against employees based on protected characteristics such as age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage, and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion and belief, sex, and sexual orientation under the Equality Act of 2010.
These laws, however, do not specifically mention tattoos, allowing companies to recruit or terminate any employee with visible tattoos. Companies can therefore choose whether or not to hire a candidate with visible tattoos.
So to answer the question of whether tattoos are acceptable in the workplace, our answer is that:
There are no regulations in the United States or Great Britain that specifically prohibit employees from making hiring decisions based on visible tattoos. Employees and companies are at liberty to hire or fire anyone with visible tattoos.
Can Teachers Have Tattoos
Now that we have an understanding of the non-existence of national-level regulations against employees making hiring decisions based on the candidate’s visible tattoos, let’s take a look at whether teachers can have tattoos.
While it’s easy to conceal tattoos that may not be visible on the face, arms, neck, and legs, it can still lead to concerns should a teacher be identified in public sporting a tattoo usually hidden in school clothes.
Most other professions would have no problems with the activities of their staff members outside the workplace, teachers do not have that luxury.
Parents and educational institutions place some level of trust in teachers and expect these teachers to live up to their trust especially since students consider teachers to be role models.
This means any activities undertaken by the teacher outside the school that can bring disrepute to the teacher becomes a cause for dismissal or disciplinary actions. A typical example is a teacher drunk in public. To answer the question:
No. Though educational institutions accept teachers with tattoos that can easily be hidden, most have reservations against teachers with visible tattoos (finger, inner arm, collarbone, wrist, outer Forearm, ankle, neck, hand).
With teachers having to deal with parents and students from varying backgrounds, it’s understandable that a parent with reservations over tattoos could raise concerns. And while our societies are growing accustomed to these forms of self-expression, the stereotype still remains prominent in some areas.
Having said that, certain educational institutions have grown more flexible, especially in the case of teachers with visible tattoos.
Why Teachers Shouldn’t Have Tattoos
Let’s take a look at the various reasons why some are of the opinion that teachers shouldn’t have tattoos.
Although our modern societies are becoming more enlightening, the stereotype that people with tattoos are rebellious, dangerous, prone to drugs, and unstable is still quite prominent in professional working environments.
The younger generation may find tattoos fashionable and cool but the older generation has a different perception. This older generation includes parents who may end up losing their trust in the educational institution due to the presence of a teacher with visible tattoos.
Education is one of the pillars of our society and with multiple educational institutions available to choose from, parents need to be fully assured their children are in the right hands and place.
Unfortunately, this confidence may be shaken, especially if an increasing number of parents object to the presence of a tattooed instructor. As a result, most educational institutions will not hire a teacher that parents may find questionable.
Discrimination & Termination
While there’re no laws against teachers with visible tattoos or facial piercings, most educational institutions have policies governing these. Teaching applicants with visible tattoos in most cases are rejected irrespective of their qualifications.
That said, some progressive educational institutions still employ teachers with tattoos but only recommend that their teachers try to hide these tattoos. Depending on the courses they might be teaching as well, the school could employ a teacher with visible tattoos.
Teachers who decide to get visible tattoos can also be terminated for breach of school policy. While this may seem unfair, educational institutions still retain the right to dismiss any teacher for any action or activity they believe would bring disrepute to the institution or even the profession in general.
Bad Influence on Students
Teachers are seen as role models by their students and most parents trust them to steer their impressionable children in the right direction. Unfortunately, this presents a problem when children who want to become like their teacher start asking for tattoos.
Parents unprepared for this discussion with their young children would then be put into uncomfortable situations as these children may not be ready to make such a decision. As teachers, we should note that our actions and choices that are visible to students can influence their character and choices.
Not Considered Professional
Most working environments still retain their reservations about employees with visible tattoos. These employees are seen as unprofessional in the eyes of our societies that expert teachers to have a specific look.
Teachers, like other professionals, are expected to have this same image of professionalism.
Lack Of Discipline
Teachers with visible tattoos may be seen as lacking discipline especially since they expect their students to adhere to the school dress code.
Unlike students, teachers have no dress code which is enforced by educational institutions. Instead, teachers are expected to show discipline in their appearance including the avoidance of any tattoos.
Change In Schools
While an educational institution may be accommodating of their teaching staff sporting tattoos, most institutions still retain their reservations.
Teachers with visible tattoos who want to change schools to different districts or schools where they have strong reservations may have a hard time landing any of these schools.
Why Teachers Should Be Allowed to Have Tattoos
To become a teacher, you need to go through the necessary training to receive your certification and license. Any qualified teacher, irrespective of their personal life choices should be given the chance to practice.
No Effect on Teacher’s Ability
While some institutions and parents may have reservations, having visible tattoos has no negative effect on the teacher’s ability to successfully administer their duties.
Tattoos are simply life choices someone may use to express themselves. These have no effect on the teacher’s ability to remain professional as a teacher.
Can You Get A Tattoo As A Teacher
No. Most educational institutions frown on teachers with visible tattoos and can make hiring or firing decisions based on it. Although few, some institutions, however, have no reservations against their teachers having tattoos.
It’s advisable to hide any tattoos when going for teacher interviews or in the case of a working teacher as most institutions have reservations against this.
They believe these teachers look unprofessional and would become a negative influence on their students.
Can You Have A Wrist Tattoo As A Teacher
No, most educational institutions frown on visible tattoos. Any wrist tattoo identified by an institution could lead to negative consequences. It’s advisable to check your institution’s policy on visible tattoos before getting a wrist tattoo.
Even if your current school has no problem with you having a wrist tattoo, other institutions you may want to work at in the future may frown upon teachers with visible tattoos.
Can Teachers Have Sleeve Tattoos
No. Most institutions are not accommodating of teachers with visible tattoos. Unless you can properly keep it covered, it’s advisable that teachers do not get sleeve tattoos.
Most institutions find visible tattoos unprofessional while a few may be tolerant of teachers with visible sleeve tattoos.
Can Teachers Have Hand Tattoos
No, unless it can be covered, most educational institutions frown on visible tattoos. It’s advisable to refrain from getting a hand tattoo as it counts as a visible tattoo.
Can Teachers Have Tattoos in Texas
No, according to Texas’ employee standards of conduct, teachers cannot have visible tattoos as they may cause disruptions to the educational environment
Can I Get A Tattoo If I Want To Be A Teacher
Yes, so long as they’re not visible and not a gang or any inappropriate tattoos. Most educational institutions and their hiring committees frown on teachers with visible tattoos.
You’re likely to land a job as a teacher so long as you can keep your tattoos hidden at the workplace. It’s still dangerous as these could still be seen outside the school in a different outfit.
The Bottom Line
As a teacher myself, I believe teachers should present an image of professionalism and discipline in the administration of their duties including their appearance. If you should get a tattoo, you should get one that’s not easily visible.