Hair Length Lawsuit

A school district in Texas is very concerned about what to do about a nine-year-old boy’s long hair.  I’m Amy E. Feldman.

On his first day of fourth grade, a nine-year old boy in the Magnolia school district in Texas was told he had to cut his hair above shoulder length, per the school’s grooming policy for boys.  When his parents refused, he was put in an in-school suspension for a month until the district moved him to an alternative school for kids with disciplinary problems.  He is now home schooled.

He and six other boys, along with the ACLU, have sued the district, claiming the gender-based hair length policy is unconstitutional.  The school says their policy is meant to teach grooming and hygiene, instill discipline and teach respect.  Now, schools do have the right to create dress codes, but courts in other cases have found that differential treatment based on gender must be justified by some reasonable basis beyond the subjective style preferences of the decision maker.  The Texas court hasn’t weighed in yet, but the penalty has already been brutal on the kids.

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