Seven students are suing a Texas school district over its dress code policy that prohibits boys from having long hair.
School officials suspended a 9-year-old boy for a month, banned playtime and normal lunch breaks as punishment for long hair, the lawsuit claims.
He and the other students, ages 7 to 17, say the policy violates the Constitution and Title IX, a federal law that prohibits sex discrimination.
The school district said Thursday it was looking into the lawsuit.
The Magnolia Independent School District “respects different viewpoints and we respect the rights of citizens to support change,” spokeswoman Denise Meyers said in an email to the US media.
The district, which serves about 13,000 students about 40 miles (64 km) northwest of Houston, did not return a request for comment from the BBC.
According to its dress code policy, guys are not allowed to wear hair over their eyes, past the bottom of their ears, or past the bottom of a shirt collar. Faced with the backlash this summer, Magnolia defended politics, saying it “reflects the values of our community at large.”
The lawsuit, filed Thursday by the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas (ACLU) on behalf of the students, claims the school district “imposed immense and irreparable damage … solely because of the gender of these students.”
It details a series of punishments inflicted on students – six boys and one non-binary child – for wearing long hair.
One, a nine-year-old boy identified as AC, is Latino and wears long hair like his father and uncle as part of his family legacy, the dress says. Another, an 11-year-old identified as TM, is non-binary and wore long hair as a “core component” of their gender expression.
Both were subjected to punishments including suspension, denial of extracurricular activities and separation from peers.
“This rule is a complete and total dinosaur,” parent Stanley Burkhead, whose son has long hair, said at a school board meeting in August.
“Who are we to tell him who he can’t be? Who are we to tell him what a boy should look like?” He said. A Texas ACLU poll last year found that nearly 500 public school districts in the state have some kind of hair length policy for boys only.
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