An 11-year-old school boy has been excluded from lessons after turning up as 50 Shades of Gray star Christian Gray to mark World Book Day. His mother insisted it was just a bit of fun, but teachers said it was “inappropriate.” Meanwhile, a 10 year old faces expulsion for taking an orange plastic toy gun to school as his teachers said it made them feel “threatened”.
Children across the country turned up to school in fancy dress today, dressing as their favourite literary characters to mark World Book Day. But when Liam Scholes arrived at Sale High School, Greater Manchester wearing a grey suit and holding cable ties and an eye mask, his teachers excluded him from class.
His mother, Nicola, who is a primary school teacher, said: “We thought it was funny. We were walking home from school and he had the idea of going as Christian Grey. At first we laughed it off but the we discussed it with a few friends and saw the funny side and decided it was quite a good costume idea.
“He went in a suit and shoes and with an eye mask and cable ties. The cable ties were tiny and not enough to do anything with them. We didn’t think there would be a problem. I got a phone call home from the school saying the outfit was inappropriate and that he had been excluded from taking part or being in any of the photographs.
“Me and the teacher agreed to disagree and it’s not being taken any further but I was disappointed for Liam that he’d been stopped from taking part and that he’s had a dressing down. One of the teachers went dressed as Dexter [the main character from a series of books, later adapted for tv, about a pathological murderer], and I don’t see why sex is seen as more offensive than murder.
“If it was a primary school I could understand but it’s a secondary school and the book and the film have been everywhere – it’s one of the most famous books in recent years and it’s not like the pupils will be unaware of it.”
In picking a literary character, Liam was one step ahead of hundreds of other children around the country. Many stretched the term ‘literary’ to dress up as comic book superheroes, whilst Jamie Peek, from Lowestoft, Suffolk, turned up at school dressed as Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson. His mother told the Daily Mail “He’s got a number of Top Gear annuals and books. I think it’s good for his reading.”
Other parents took to Twitter to comment on the hundreds of girls using the day as an excuse to give their Elsa costumes an outing. Claire Anderson tweeted: “My daughter is VERY unimpressed by the 23(!!) girls dressed up in Frozen costumes for #WorldBookDay at school”, whilst ‘saraurora’ tweeted: “The boy dressed as an oompa-loompa in a sea of Elsa’s and superheroes is my idol”
Mrs Scholes pointed out that Christian Grey is, at least, a book character, telling the BBC’s Today program “I don’t think I was breaking the rules. He went as a book character. Christian Grey is one of the most famous book characters of recent years.” She stressed that Liam hasn’t read 50 Shades of Gray, nor has he seen the film adaptation, but was merely aware of the character thanks to the material’s saturation in the media.
“He’s aware that the book is saying things of a sexual nature. If you looked on Twitter after the film came out it was everywhere,” she said.
Liam told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “It’s the content of the book that people might think is inappropriate, but I went in dressed as Christian Grey just for a laugh.”
Meanwhile, ten year old Jayden Taljaard was immediately suspended from Selwood Academy in Frome, Somerset, and faces possible explusion after he brought a bright orange gun which doesn’t fire or make any noise to school.
The school holds a regular ‘golden hour’ during the last hour of every Friday afternoon, in which children can bring their own toys from home to play with. But when Jayden unveiled his plastic orange weapon, teachers called the police saying they felt threatened.
“We were totally unaware that a bright orange toy gun that doesn’t fire anything would cause so much mayhem,” his stepfather, Kevin Pleasants, told the Daily Mail. “We have a policeman coming to the house to give him a lecture on the dangers of firearms – he’s 10, it’s ridiculous. It’s being blown out of all proportion. We had no idea about the school’s policy on toy guns. It’s a simple mistake.
“He asked his mother if he could take a toy to school. She didn’t let him at first. He explained about golden time and took the gun. Three teachers said they felt threatened by this gun. Could they not see it was bright orange and plastic?”
Jayden, who suffers from ADHD and learning disorders was making good progress at the school. But he was immediately suspended on the 27th February and told not to return until the 9th March.
“He was supposed to go back on Monday but my partner had a meeting at the school and they said he might not be allowed back,” said Mr Pleasants. “He was doing fine at the school. He brought an award home for very good behaviour. I framed it and it is on his wall.
“My partner is devastated by this. She is in a state of depression. She feels like she has failed as a mother. I think that they can’t handle Jayden and this is an excuse. We worked hard to find the right medication for him and we think we finally have. He was making progress.
“We received a letter saying he is not allowed out in public otherwise we might face prosecution because he is not in school. He has to stay in the house all day. It’s like he is a prisoner in his own home. Natasha is an assistant nurse and she has had to take time off work.”