MAGNOLIA – School board members for the Magnolia Independent School District voted on Monday to reverse its controversial hair policy that required boys to wear short hair.
The decision comes after the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, the ACLU Women’s Rights Project, and the law firms of Ahmad, Zavitsanos, Anaipakos, Alavi & Mensing P.C. and Susman Godfrey LLP challenged the policy in October on behalf of six boys and one non-binary student who said the policy was opposite of their values.
According to the ACLU, shortly after the case was filed, the U.S. Court for the Southern District of Texas blocked Magnolia ISD’s hair policy from being enforced, finding that the policy likely violated the U.S. Constitution and Title IX.
At the start of this school year, the ACLU said Magnolia ISD suspended several students and stopped them from attending regular classes and extracurricular activities, and forced three students out of school entirely - all for simply wearing long hair.
“Students and families in Magnolia ISD have fought hard for this victory and can finally celebrate that the district’s dress code will no longer punish students based solely on gender. But this lawsuit should never have needed to be filed. Dress codes that discriminate against students have no place in our public schools and plainly violate the U.S. Constitution and federal law. In the wake of this decision, more school districts across the state are updating similarly outdated and unlawful policies. We are heartened that they understand how vital it is that no school district subject students to dress codes that impose gender stereotypes,” attorney Brian Klosterboer said.
Under the settlement agreement, which was approved by the school board, students who were previously disciplined under the district’s hair policy will have their records expunged and Magnolia ISD’s dress code will now be gender-neutral.
The ACLU of Texas said it also sent a letter to nearly 500 other school districts in Texas that maintain similarly outdated and unconstitutional dress codes. They said many districts are now updating their policies.
Magnolia ISD released the following statement regarding its hair policy:
“Magnolia ISD has updated the dress and grooming code per the settlement agreement terms for male students to no longer have a certain length of hair.”
Danielle Miller, the mother of an 11-year-old non-binary student who was suspended for wearing long hair, gave the following statement about the school board decision:
“I told my child that I would not stop fighting for their right to fully be themselves at school. We are both feeling relief today with the school board’s decision to stop discriminating against students based on gender. Our community never gave up fighting to put an end to this harmful policy. We hope today’s result will be a sign to other school districts in Texas that changing discriminatory policies like these is the right thing to do.”