If it’s been a few years since you left school, don’t feel too bad about your age. After all, kids these days have to put up with all manner of absurd bans on objects, games and items of clothing. Indeed, from Santa Claus and snowballs to best friends and dodgeball, these 20 things that aren’t allowed beyond the school gates will make you grateful to have already finished your own education.
20. Yoga pants and leggings
Dress codes at schools are nothing new, but some have certainly taken them further than others. One high school in Massachusetts, for instance, banned yoga pants and leggings in 2015. Amid fears that students would protest, school staff quickly pointed out that the legwear was still allowed if worn with shorts, a skirt or a long top.
Sometimes, proposed solutions to problems don’t solve anything at all. In fact, they just create further issues. Take Cardinal Leger Secondary School in Ontario, Canada, which in 2017 instigated a backpack ban to cut down on classroom clutter. Instead, it just meant that pupils were having to carry everything in their arms, causing commotion at lockers between classes.
In 2007 several students were suspended from a British school after breaking a ban on snowball fights. According to the Peterborough school’s principal, the ban was implemented in the interests of health and safety. Unsurprisingly, parents considered the rule “laughable” and “extreme,” according to the Daily Mail. After all, snow is only fun when you’re a kid…
17. Toilet paper tubes
Thankfully, this isn’t a ban on actual toilet paper – but it’s almost as ridiculous. Remember when you used to create all sorts of awesome cardboard contraptions out of old toilet paper tubes and egg cartons? Well, that’s no longer possible in certain British establishments. At least since 2016, when a kindergarten in Durham banned them over health and safety fears.
We’re not saying that only British schools are vehemently regressive, but they do seem to be worse for it. Take Northampton’s Malcolm Arnold Academy, for example, which introduced a “no-touching” policy in September 2016. That meant no holding hands and even no hugging. One scandalized parent described the ban to the Metro as “verging on draconian.” Quite.
We’re not talking about obviously inappropriate acronyms, such as “LOL” or “BRB” here. No, one school in England actually banned phrases such as “Hiya,” “Cheers” and “See ya” in 2012. Instead, students were instructed to use the more formal “Hello,” “Thank you” and “Goodbye.” Supposedly, it was to prepare them for the real world, where everyone apparently talks like robots.
14. Silly Bandz
Remember when Silly Bandz were a thing? If you can believe it, it was all the way back in 2010 when kids were fawning over the colorful rubber bracelets. Inevitably, it didn’t take long for schools to clamp down on them, claiming that they were distracting students. And so, Silly Bandz became the latest victim of a silly ban. (Sorry.)
Of all the various playground activities we played as kids, few were as open and accessible as tag. You didn’t need to be an athlete to play it, the rules were simple, and it was fun for everyone. But in 2015 an entire school district in Washington banned the game to protect kids’ safety – both emotionally and physically.
12. Santa Claus
In 2016 an Oregon school district banned all religious imagery in classrooms, including images of Santa Claus in the run-up to Christmas. Apparently, the aim was to show equal respect to all religions, seemingly by pretending none of them exist. And, predictably, parents complained – not least because Santa is hardly a religious figure in the first place.
Temperatures in England rarely rise to those of other countries in mainland Europe, but a 2017 heatwave still left students sufficiently sweltering to don shorts to school. Until, that is, they realized that they were banned there under its strict dress code. Instead, then, around 30 boys came to school wearing skirts in an inspired protest.
10. Party invitations
Supposedly acting in the interests of inclusivity, an elementary school in England banned party invites in 2013. Or it at least banned those that didn’t invite the entire class – or in some cases even the entire year group. We’re all for making sure no one feels left out, but those are some mammoth birthday parties going on there.
9. Fidget spinners
Originally, fidget spinners were supposed to help kids concentrate in class. It’s somewhat ironic, then, that they were banned in 2017 in schools across the U.K. and U.S. because they were causing too much of a distraction. Children who genuinely used them to focus were unfortunately out of luck.
You may remember dodgeball as a mostly harmless, if slightly painful, schoolyard game. But as far back as 2001 schools in the U.S. were already in the process of banning it. On one hand, it’s hard not to agree, given that the sport is also known as “killer ball” or “murder ball.” But on the other, limiting what kids can and can’t play seems a little harsh.
7. Jojo Bows
Never heard of Jojo Bows? That’s probably because they were quickly stamped out by schools in the U.K. in 2017, after kids started copying Nebraska-born singer JoJo Siwa’s flamboyantly huge hair bows. Educators deemed the bows “distracting,” according to The Telegraph – much to the exasperation of parents who’d spent money on them.
6. Red ink
And it isn’t only students who face bans at school. One U.K. academy, for instance, banned teachers from using red ink in 2014. The school’s vice principal, Jennie Hick, told the Daily Mail that red is a “very negative color,” suggesting green to be a suitable alternative for adding corrections when grading papers.
5. Best friends
Ever had a major falling out with your best friend? Or maybe you had a couple of best friends who got upset when you couldn’t decide which you liked most? Well, several elementary schools in the U.K. have the answer – in 2012 they banned best friends altogether, supposedly with the aim of getting kids playing in bigger groups instead.
4. Father’s Day cards
Controversy sprang up in Scotland in 2008 after a handful of schools banned Father’s Day cards. This was apparently done in a bid to be more sensitive towards single moms and same-sex female couples. According to The Telegraph, campaign groups dismissed the move as “absurd.” However, local authorities responded by pointing to “the changing pattern of family life.”
3. Boyfriends and girlfriends
In January 2018 a principal in a north Wales school went on something of a rampage against relationships between students at school, claiming that they were a distraction. Indeed, he threatened to expel anyone with a boyfriend or girlfriend. And in an email to teachers, he wrote, “School is not the place for romantic relationships – ever,” according to The Telegraph.
Just when you thought that the list of things banned from schools couldn’t become any more bizarre, you find out that you can add dictionaries to it. Yes, that’s exactly what a school in California did in 2010 after students discovered that the latest edition of Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary contained the phrase “oral sex.”
1. Postgame handshakes
The Kentucky High School Athletic Association faced a PR nightmare in 2013, after a statement implied that students shouldn’t shake hands after games. Naturally, the story went viral long before the association could do anything about it. And when it finally issued a clarification that handshakes weren’t banned, but just needed to be supervised, the damage was already done.