ACLU Sues Texas School District For Punishing Boys With Long Hair

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A federal judge has temporarily ordered that some Magnolia Independent School District students disciplined for violating a dress code ban on boys having long hair can return to class without facing further consequences.

The temporary ruling from Chief Judge Lee H. Rosenthal of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas comes after the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas sued the Houston-area school district last week over its gender-based policy on behalf of seven students, including six boys and one nonbinary student ages 7-17. The plaintiffs claimed that because they wore long hair, they received harsh disciplinary action including being threatened with or sent to in-school suspension for weeks at a time. Some students were placed in an alternative disciplinary program outside of school that led to them unenrolling from the district.

Rosenthal signed the temporary restraining order Tuesday after

issuing an oral ruling in a hearing Monday. Rosenthal wrote in her decision that four of the plaintiffs could return to school without facing disciplinary consequences over the district's dress code policy, and the district is halted from enforcing previously imposed sanctions.

The temporary relief was denied for the remaining three plaintiffs, all whom have cut their hair after the threat of discipline, with one of them being placed in in-school suspension. The judge left the door open for those three plaintiffs to seek relief in the future “if or when their hair length exceeds the School District’s policy and they face disciplinary consequences because of their hair length.”

The temporary relief granted this week, which followed the conclusion of a preliminary injunction hearing, will remain in effect until Nov. 10.

Reference

> Temporary Restraining Order: Magnolia ISD hair policy

(130.7 KB) DOWNLOAD

The ACLU of Texas argued that Magnolia ISD's dress code policy violates equal protection under the 14th Amendment and goes against Title IX, a federal law that prohibits discrimination in education institutions on the basis of sex.

In Tuesday's order, Rosenthal wrote that the “plaintiffs have established a substantial likelihood of success” in their argument concerning violation of rights under the 14th Amendment.

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