ACLU sues Magnolia ISD over male students' hair length policy

Friday, October 22, 2021
Magnolia ISD sued over what kind of hairstyles students can wear
These days it seems like there's a fight over everything in Texas schools, from masks to what books kids can read. But a battle is brewing in Magnolia ISD over students' hair length.

MAGNOLIA, Texas (KTRK) -- Parents are calling it discrimination, but the Magnolia Independent School District is coming down hard on male students with a grooming policy that restricts long hair.

Seven families are part of a lawsuit against the district citing, "explicit gender discrimination."

Students including 11-year old Tristan Miller have faced consequences like in-school suspension for the length of their hair.

"The second day of school, Tristan's assistant principal called me and told me that Tristan's hair was out of dress code," said his mother, Danielle Miller.

According to the district's handbook, male students are not to have hair longer than the bottom of a shirt collar.

"When I was told that we would have to cut Tristan's hair, I was met with trauma from Tristan," she said.

ACLU of Texas urges school districts to reexamine 'discriminatory' dress code policies

Miller's child identifies as non-binary, but their mother says the hair is a part of their identity.

Miller says when her child's hair was not cut, they were placed in in-school suspension.

In a statement from Magnolia ISD, the district says that they are considering parent grievances on this subject manner and respect the various viewpoints. However the district also states "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."

"Tristan is absolutely not getting an equal education at all," said Miller.

The parent of a high schooler in the district says his son was forced to cut 16 inches off of his hair.

"If he had kept his experience as he liked it with the long hair, he would've been excluded from all of his honors classes. He's a very good student he's in the top 5% of his class," said Michael Berger.

The families are represented by the ACLU.

"We have warned the district repeatedly that its gender-based hair policy violates the Constitution, but the district continues to derail students' lives and deny their right to a public education free from discrimination," said Brian Klosterboer, ACLU of Texas staff attorney.

The plaintiffs are asking to return to the classroom and receive an education without being forced to cut their hair.

SEE ALSO: After 2 Black students were suspended, court rules hair policy is discriminatory

If you recall, a teen was entangled with his high school over his dreadlocks. The back-and-forth has since inspired legislation.

Texas high school student suspended over dreadlocks, family says

"There is no dress code policy that prohibits any cornrow or any other method of wearing of the hair," the district's superintendent, Greg Poole, insisted.

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