A heavily tattooed French schoolteacher said he was prevented from teaching kindergarten after a parent complained his appearance scared their child.
Sylvain Helaine, 35, said the parent of a 3-year-old student at the Docteur Morere Elementary School in Palaiseau complained their son had nightmares after seeing him. Although the boy was not in his class, Helaine said he was removed from the classroom for two months and then prohibited from teaching children under the age of 6 years old.
"I think it's just disgusting," he told USA TODAY. "They didn’t even try to convince the parent that I was a good teacher and that I had a lot of experience ... I felt betrayed by them and I’m a bit sad."
The local education authority confirmed to Reuters that an agreement was reached to move Helaine because of his appearance.
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Helaine said he's been teaching for more than 12 years and that he's only had a few comments from parents. He first decided to change his appearance while working in London when he was 27 because he felt he wouldn't be judged.
He had his tongue and the whites of his eyes surgically blackened and got his first "layer" of tattoos over the course of three and half years.
"For me it’s only one tattoo, one body suit," he said. "It's constantly evolving."
Helaine, who also does acting, modeling and comedy in his spare time, said he was 10 years old when he knew he wanted to be a teacher and hopes to keep doing it.
"Primary school teacher is a job that you want to be forever," he said. " I just want people to judge me for my work."
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Teacher says he's barred from teaching kindergarten because of tattoos