“ACLU of Texas sues Houston-area school district over gender-based dress code’s long-hair policy” was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.
Sign up for The Brief, our daily newsletter that keeps readers up to speed on the most essential Texas news.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas is suing a Houston-area school district over a dress code policy it says has led to multiple students being disciplined for having long hair.
Plaintiffs in the lawsuit include six boys and a nonbinary student ages 7-17 from Magnolia Independent School District. According to the lawsuit, which was filed in federal district court Thursday morning, the Magnolia ISD gender-based policy “imposed immense and irreparable harm” on the students, some of whom claim they have worn long hair for years while attending school in the district without any repercussions.
The lawsuit says the students have been threatened with or sent to in-school suspension for weeks at a time; some were placed in a “disciplinary alternative education program,” leading three of them to unenroll from the school district. The suit also states that while the plaintiffs have been disciplined for the length of their hair, other students with long hair, such as those on high school football teams, have not faced discipline.
“To be kicked out, pushed out, of school entirely simply because of their gender and their hair is really unconscionable,” ACLU of Texas staff attorney Brian Klosterboer said.
Klosterboer said the ACLU warned Magnolia ISD numerous times about how its dress code policy’s gender-specific requirements violate equal protection under the 14th Amendment and Title IX, which prohibits discrimination in education institutions on the basis of sex.
In a statement, Magnolia ISD disagreed with the ACLU’s claims and said it was reviewing “the lawsuit with its legal counsel and looks forward to the opportunity to respond to the Court.”
“This system of differentiated dress and grooming standards have been affirmed by courts and does not inhibit equal access to educational opportunities under Title IX,” the district said. “The rules are included in the student handbook each year and are similar to the codes of approximately half of the public school districts in Texas.”
In a letter sent to the district in August, the ACLU of Texas said it filed a grievance in 2019 on behalf of a Magnolia ISD parent who said her son was told to cut his hair or he’d be sent to in-school suspension. The letter also cited reports the ACLU of Texas received about students repeatedly being threatened with disciplinary action or being suspended for having long hair.
Danielle Miller, whose 11-year-old child is nonbinary and a plaintiff in the lawsuit against the district, said she received a phone call from her child’s school at the beginning of this school year and was told that her child would have to cut their hair. The Texas Tribune does not disclose children’s names for privacy reasons.
Miller said her child was “just in absolute devastation and tears” when she told them they would have to cut their hair.
“… Based on [my child’s] reaction and how harsh and traumatized they were, I realized that we weren’t going to be cutting [their] hair,” Miller said.
Miller’s child was placed in in-school suspension for nine days, she said. The suspension was postponed during a 60-day window to appeal the decision, which has almost run its course, Miller said.
Miller said her child has had long hair for a couple of years and that their hair length had never been a problem before.
“I have no idea what changed,” Miller said. “[The district is] not saying anything, they’re not responding to anybody in the community about it.”
The district said its administration and board of trustees have heard from a small group of parents about concerns over the dress code policy, and they “are currently in the process of considering parent grievances on this subject matter.”
According to Magnolia ISD’s 2021-22 student handbook, hair must “be no longer than the bottom of a dress shirt collar, bottom of the ear, and out of the eyes for male students.” Hair also cannot “be pinned up in any fashion” or “worn in a ponytail or bun for male students.”
However, the ACLU argues many of the plaintiffs have worn long hair for years while enrolled in Magnolia ISD and have not faced any discipline until this year. Klosterboer said some school districts in Texas tend to rely on “old and outdated case law” as the basis for their dress code policies.
Another plaintiff, a 9-year-old Latino student identified in the lawsuit as A.C., wears long hair that he keeps in a ponytail and out of his face. His family was told on the first day of school this year that he would need to cut his hair or be sent to in-school suspension, the lawsuit says. His mother said many men in A.C.’s family wear long hair, including his dad and uncle. A.C. did not cut his hair and was placed in in-school suspension for five weeks, where he was separated from other students and wasn’t able to attend his regular classes.
In September, he was sent to a “disciplinary alternative education program” outside of school for seven weeks, where he faced potentially harsher punishment. According to the lawsuit, students who don’t comply with the school district’s hair length policy and are sent to the alternative education program may be required to have a parent sit in class with them, go to before- or after-school detention, or lose their desk, among other measures.
This month, A.C.’s family unenrolled him from the district. However, the suit says his placement in an alternative education program has made it difficult for him to enroll in another district and he is now being home-schooled.
“Magnolia ISD has harshly punished my son and driven him out of school entirely because he is a boy with long hair. … The district needs to stop harming our children,” Azucena Laredo, A.C.’s mother, said in a statement.
In 2020, a federal judge granted two Black students from a Houston-area school district temporary relief after they were told they would have to cut their hair, which they wore in dreadlocks, to abide by district dress code policy. The case, which caught national attention, also landed on the radar of Texas lawmakers, who introduced their own version of the CROWN Act, legislation that would prohibit hair discrimination based on hair texture and protective styles that are usually associated with race. The legislation, House Bill 392, advanced out of committee during the regular session but was not taken up on the House floor for a vote.
Outside of Texas, federal courts have ruled in cases from Indiana and North Carolina that gender-specific dress codes could be linked to gender discrimination under federal law, according to the ACLU and the Texas Association of School Boards.
Disclosure: Texas Association of School Boards has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here.
This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2021/10/21/magnolia-isd-texas-long-hair/.
The Texas Tribune is a member-supported, nonpartisan newsroom informing and engaging Texans on state politics and policy. Learn more at texastribune.org.
Image: Danielle Miller hugs her child as the family prepares for school at their home in Magnolia.
Photo: Annie Mulligan for The Texas Tribune
Enjoy this piece?
… then let us make a small request. The New Civil Rights Movement depends on readers like you to meet our ongoing expenses and continue producing quality progressive journalism. Three Silicon Valley giants consume 70 percent of all online advertising dollars, so we need your help to continue doing what we do.
NCRM is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. From unflinching coverage of religious extremism, to spotlighting efforts to roll back our rights, NCRM continues to speak truth to power. America needs independent voices like NCRM to be sure no one is forgotten.
Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure NCRM remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to NCRM, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.
Number of Pro-Choice Americans Shows ‘Marked’ Increase After SCOTUS Leak: Gallup
The number of Americans who identify as pro-choice has almost hit the highest point on record, after a leak of the Supreme Court’s draft opinion that shows five justices are expected to rescind a woman’s constitutional right to abortion. And the number of Americans who say they are “pro-life” – opposed to abortion and do not support a woman’s right to choose – has dropped to its lowest point since 1996.
A new Gallup poll taken “mostly after” the leak shows a “marked” increase in people who now say they are pro-choice – supportive of a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion. A majority of Americans, now 55%, say they are pro-choice, just one point below the all-time high of 56% in 1995.
“After a decade in which Americans’ identification as ‘pro-choice’ varied narrowly between 45% and 50%, the percentage has jumped six points to 55% in the latest poll, compared with the prior measure a year ago,” Gallup reports.
The polling organization also says that for the first time “a majority of Americans (52%) consider abortion morally acceptable, while a record-low 38% call it morally wrong.”
The Supreme Court is widely expected this month to hand down a ruling overturning the 1973 landmark decision in Roe v. Wade, which found women have a right to abortion. That decision is also expected by some legal experts to pave the way for the 6-3 majority conservative court to overturn other decisions, including the 2015 Obergefell ruling which found same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry, and the 2003 decision in Lawrence v Texas which found a right to sex between consenting adults, including same-sex sex.
Grand Jury Indicts George Floyd Murderer Derek Chauvin and 3 Cops for Violating His Constitutional Rights
“Right to be free from the use of unreasonable force by a police officer”
A federal grand jury has indicted former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who was convicted of murdering George Floyd, on civil rights charges for violating his constitutional rights. The three other officers involved were also indicted.
The indictment says that Chauvin “willfully deprived George Floyd of the right, secured and protected by the Constitution and laws of the United States, to be free from an unreasonable force by a police officer,” MSNBC’s Pete Williams reported.
A separate indictment related to Chauvin’s treatment of a then-14-year old boy in 2017, says he “without legal justification, held the teenager by the throat and struck the teenager multiple times in the head with a flashlight,” MSNBC adds, citing to a statement by federal prosecutors. Chauvin “held his knee on the neck and the upper back of the teenager even after the teenager was lying prone, handcuffed, and unresisting, also resulting in bodily injury.”
Williams says the charges shows a “dedication by this Justice Dept. to be more aggressive in civil rights cases.”
This is a breaking news and developing story. Details may change.
‘Lucky You’re Not Dead’ Cop Says During Arrest as Police Repeatedly Punch Black Man Pulled Over for Littering
As part of what Grand Rapids, Michigan police are calling “Operation: Safe Neighborhoods,” three police cars pulled over a car with two Black men and one Latino man, claiming they were littering. Police forced the men out of the car, including dragging one of them out the door.
As March 26 body cam video reveals, cops repeatedly beat one of the Black men, identified as Diabate Hood, punching him in the face. They can be heard telling him to “stop resisting,” despite having him on the ground as he was being handcuffed, and may have pepper sprayed him. One officer said he was about to but another officer told him not to. Moments later the victim shouted, “I can’t breathe,” repeatedly, and complained, “My eye, my eye, I can’t open my eyes.”
At one point one of the police officers tells one of the men, “You’re lucky you’re not dead.”
The event is being supported by the Grand Rapids Police Chief.
“This is the police work that I expect from my personnel,” Chief Eric Payne said in a Wednesday statement, WOOD-TV reports. “I have made the enforcement of violent crime and the recovery of illegal firearms one of the department’s top priorities.”
Police say they recovered four guns from the car.
WARNING GRAPHIC ⚠️ Police officers in Grand Rapids, Michigan assault a Black man during a traffic stop for littering pic.twitter.com/xVSddlbe49
— Fifty Shades of Whey (@davenewworld_2) April 22, 2021
At least one of the victims has retained an attorney who says there will be a lawsuit, as WOOD-TV reports:
- News3 days ago
‘Outrage’: MSNBC Slammed for Canceling ‘Vital Voice’ Mehdi Hasan
- News3 days ago
‘If I Leave They Win’: Santos Claims ‘Bullying’ at Off the Rails Press Conference
- News3 days ago
Moms for Liberty Deletes Statement Supporting Co-Founder Whose Husband Is Accused of Sexual Battery
- News3 days ago
Trump Gag Orders Reinstated
- News2 days ago
The Christian Ziegler/Moms for Liberty Scandal Could Hurt Ron DeSantis
- News2 days ago
John Fetterman Says Bob Menendez ‘Senator for Egypt,’ Should Be Expelled Next
- News2 days ago
On World AIDS Day, DOJ Says Tennessee Law Discriminates Against Those With HIV
- BREAKING NEWS2 days ago
House Votes to Boot George Santos 311-114