Can Teachers Have Tattoos in the United States?

Tattoos are a great way to express yourself and increase your self-confidence. These beautiful works of art can turn your body into a canvas that tells your story to the world. Unfortunately, some professions do not allow tattoos or look at those with tattoos in a negative way, such as in teaching.

Can Teachers have tattoos? If you are considering a career in education, it is important to remember that many school systems in the United States do not allow teachers to have tattoos or to only have a limited number of them. Some schools do allow teaching staff or school leaders to have tattoos, as long as they are not visible. 

It is difficult to say exactly what a school system considers appropriate regarding tattoos, as most schools and hiring staff will vary in requirements.

Some schools will hire teachers with small, tasteful visible tattoos, while others do not hire those with tattoos at all.

The best way to figure out if you can teach at a particular school is to ask about their tattoo policies and if they have a specific standard in place.

Is Body Art Acceptable for Teachers Today?

Tattoos have been around for years and continue to grow in popularity. However, some professions still do not accept body art and prefer to hire those without any ink.

For many, there is a negative connotation that comes with tattoos, which unfortunately is often the case for the education system.

The social interpretation of tattoos has started to change significantly over the past few years, with many school systems not hiring teachers with tattoos.

If you live in a conservative area, small town, or want to be employed by a religion-based school, this interpretation is probably taking longer to change.

Often, those with several visible tattoos will not be hired in these conditions but may be considered in more progressive towns.

The Negative Views on Tattoos for Teachers

While some areas today are just as likely to hire teachers with tattoos as those without, there are still some areas that have not caught up to this trend.

It is unfortunate, as most teachers and even parents do not mind tattoos, and do not think that they affect children negatively. Even though tattoos are becoming more accepted, some attitudes about them that many still have are:

  • Tattoos are ugly or distastefully done
  • Tattoos send the wrong message to children
  • Professionals do not have tattoos
  • Those with tattoos do not hold themselves to the same standard as those who do not
  • Parents will not take teachers with tattoos as seriously

What Does the Law Say About Tattoos?

While these outdated views are not correct, they are still a significant issue for those who live in smaller areas and want to pursue a teaching career.

Also, teachers who currently have a position in a school system are stuck without getting tattoos because of their profession.

Therefore, it is also essential to consider the legal side of whether body art can be a reason why you are not hired for a teaching job in your area.

Legally, in the United States, there is nothing that can protect you against being discriminated against based on your tattoos.

The Equality Act of 2019 is currently waiting to be passed by the Senate but has been passed by the House; while this Act should significantly protect discrimination against gender, sexual orientation, and more, it does not protect against tattoos, in particular.

So, where does this leave you?

It essentially means that school leaders and employers can make hiring decisions based on the presence of visible tattoos.

For many school systems, these stipulations will be included in the dress codes and will state that no visible tattoos are allowed for educators or school officials.

As mentioned, the specifics of the school will vary depending on where you live, and the exact school system you are considering.

If you already work for a school and are considering getting a tattoo, you will want to look over these rules before getting your ink.

While most school systems cannot and will not fire you for a small, tasteful tattoo, breaking these codes can result in losing your job.

Do Tattoos Affect Students?

There are actually no proven reasons why educators should not have tattoos and how body art can negatively affect children.

In fact, most children do not seem to notice body art or simply find them interesting versus negatively seeing them; the positives of educators having tattoos can outweigh any negatives that may be considered.

For most, children taught in an atmosphere that encourages artistic expression, open-mindedness, and self-expression are at an advantage compared to those who are not.

We live in a world where self-expression is more important and accepted than ever before, which makes accepting this from an early age important. By keeping individuals who do not fit the “norm” out of the classroom, most school systems are doing students an injustice.

One of the biggest reasons many school systems do not allow tattoos is because of the negative views they expect from parents.

Most other teachers and even school officials may not have a negative attitude towards body art. For most parents, there will be one of two opinions:

  1. Teachers are professionals and should not have visible tattoos
  2. If a teacher is good at their job, their body art does not matter

Does the Type of Tattoo Matter?

For most who are accepting of tattoos, this is where acceptable discrimination against tattoos comes in, as the type of tattoo can significantly impact if it is allowed in the classroom.

As most know, educators are meant to teach and encourage students but do require a certain level of professionalism.

This means that if tattoos are allowed for educators, they should not be offensive or inappropriate. 

For most, the issue is not if teachers have tattoos, but rather the message that the body art portrays.

Three main things to keep in mind when it comes to visible tattoos is that they should not represent a religious, sexual, or political view. For many, basic religious symbols like a cross or quote can be allowed, but controversial tattoos or negatively viewed tattoos will not be permitted.

For most school systems, personal opinions on controversial issues are not allowed or even legally not accepted due to the division of church and state. This goes hand in hand with tattoos, as they can show self-expression but not be controversial.

Most tattoo lovers will even agree that sexual or vulgar tattoos simply do not have a place in the classroom setting.

The Fine Line of Acceptable Tattoos

The problem that many school systems have is that the fine line of what is acceptable is hard to establish.

If you have visible tattoos that are not necessarily vulgar or negative, these will often be accepted in any school system.

However, most school systems will not allow excessive tattoos like full sleeves, face tattoos, or those that may be viewed negatively by parents.

As mentioned, you will want to discuss the rules against tattoos with the hiring team at the school system you are considering in determining if your body art will be allowed.

If your tattoos are normally covered with clothing, you will want to mention this as well. If you have a small design that is visible but is not lewd, crude, sexist, racist, violent, etc. there will not be an issue.

Can Teachers Have Tattoos FAQ

Can Teachers in the Us Have Tattoos?

Many school systems in the United States do not allow teachers to have tattoos or to only have a limited number of them. More progressive areas are more likely to allow tattoos than more conservative areas, small towns or religion-based schools. It is advisable to ask a potential new school for their staff dress code prior to accepting a position.

Does the Law Protect Teachers With Tattoos?

Legally, in the United States, there is nothing that can protect you against being discriminated against based on your tattoos.

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