image captionSylvain Helaine says pupils who are taught by him learn to accept people who are different
France’s most tattooed man has said he was told not to teach nursery school children after a parent complained about his looks.
Sylvain Helaine has tattoos on his body, face and tongue, and has had his eyeballs surgically inked black.
Mr Helaine, 35, still teaches primary school children aged six and older.
He said the child whose parent complained was not taught by him, and that his own pupils were “cool” with his appearance because they knew him.
“It’s only when people see me from far away that they can assume the worst,” he told Reuters news agency.
image captionThe child complained that seeing Mr Helaine gave him nightmares
Mr Helaine, who is also known as “Freaky Hoody”, said he was teaching at a school in Palaiseau, near Paris, last year when a three-year-old child told their parents that they had nightmares after seeing him.
The child’s parents then complained to the educational authorities.
Almost two months later, officials told him that he could no longer teach that age group - a decision Mr Helaine said was “quite sad”.
image captionMr Helaine is also known as “Freaky Hoody”
His tattoos, Mr Helaine said, could help teach pupils to accept people who did not look like them.
He told BFM TV: “Children who see me learn tolerance of others. 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 estimates that he has spent about 460 hours under the tattooist’s needle.
This includes the procedure on his eyes, which he had to travel to Switzerland for because it is illegal to have it done in France.