Teacher loses job after kid ‘nightmares’ over tattoos
A French man who has tattoos covering his entire body has revealed how his appearance cost him a kindergarten teaching job.
Sylvain Helaine is France's most tattooed man and even has his eyeballs surgically black as well as his tongue inked.
He lost his kindergarten teaching job at Docteur Morere Elementary School in Paris last year after the parents of a three-year-old son complained that their child had nightmares after seeing Mr Helaine, CNN reports.
"I think the decision they took was quite sad," he said.
The local education authority for where Mr Helaine worked said in a statement that he and the school agreed that he would only teach children aged six and up as those younger "could be frightened by his appearance".
Mr Helaine said the children he now teaches are "cool" with his appearance and he still loves his job.
The 35-year-old hopes that his appearance teaches his children to be less judgmental.
"Children who see me learn tolerance of others," Mr Helaine told BFM TV, according to the BBC.
When they are adults, they may be less likely to be racist or homophobic, and they will not look at disabled people as if they were something from a circus."
Mr Helaine got his first tattoo aged 27 while living in Britain because of an "existential crisis".
"Mr Snake", as some pupils call him, had to travel to Switzerland to get his eyes done - something that is illegal in France.
"It was torture. They hold your eyes open and you feel the needle pierce" the white of your eye, he said.
Mr Helaine estimates he has spent around $93,000 on tattoos and he has 64,000 followers on Instagram, where he is known as @freakyhoody.
Mr Helaine previously said he had problems with "parents of children who were not in my class".
Some sent a letter to the authorities with pictures of him they found on the internet, and he was "sidelined" for seven weeks before being given the green light to go back to his class.
"I have nothing against tattoos but I think a teacher should be neutral when everyone is talking about what girls are wearing," said one father, Farid, 45, referring to the controversy in French school about some girls being sent home for wearing "inappropriate" dress.
"What he does in his private life is none of our business," insisted Lydie Songo, the mother of another child.
- WITH AFP
Originally published as Teacher loses job after kid 'nightmares'