Houston-area school district suspends gender provisions in dress code after being sued over long hair policy

The Independent School District of Magnolia has suspended the application of gender provisions in its dress code policy for all students until further notice amid an ongoing dispute that claims the rules discriminate against women. boys with long hair.

District Judge Lee H. Rosenthal granted a preliminary injunction on Thursday that extended aid to all Magnolia ISD students, including six boys and one non-binary student who are represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas in a recent lawsuit against the Houston-area school. district on its gender-based dress code policy. Rosenthal had granted a previous injunction who only offered redress to four of the seven complainants.

The Texas ACLU has accused the district of violating the equal protection of students under the 14th Amendment as well as Title IX, a federal law that prohibits discrimination based on sex in educational institutions.

Rosenthal wrote that the new ordinance “requires that the district immediately cease disciplinary consequences resulting from the violation of the gender provisions of its dress and dress code for any student, including, but not limited to, suspension from school. or placement in the alternative education discipline. program.”

Students who have suffered repercussions under these dress code provisions “must be allowed to return to and remain in school without further discipline or other negative consequences, for wearing long hair or for violating any other provision. gender-specific dress and grooming policy.

Magnolia ISD declined to comment on the decision.

According to the 2021-2022 district student manual, male student hair should not be longer than the bottom of a shirt collar [and] bottom of the ear. Boys are also not allowed to wear their hair “pinned up in any way” and it cannot be worn in a ponytail or bun.

In the ACLU of Texas lawsuit against the school district, some of the plaintiffs claim they were suspended from school because of their hair and were ultimately placed in an alternative discipline program outside of school, forcing some to drop out of the district altogether. . Some also claimed that their hair length was not an issue until this school year.

In a statement, Texas ACLU attorney Brian Klosterboer said students and families were relieved by Rosenthal’s most recent decision. Last month, Rosenthal wrote that the plaintiffs had presented a “likelihood of success” in their arguments against the district’s dress code policy regarding protections under the 14th Amendment and Title IX.

“This problem should have been corrected quickly without recourse to litigation, and the school board should end it by permanently amending this outdated and unconstitutional policy,” Klosterboer said.

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