Some students from the Magnolia Independent School District (ISD) in suburban Houston got suspended for having long hair. These students later filed a lawsuit against the ISD.
Magnolia ISD issued several requirements when it comes to the hairstyles of students. Accordingly, the students’ hairs must be clean, well-groomed, and worn out of the eyes. Further, they must maintain appropriate hygiene at all times and have natural hair color. For male students, they must also have no beards, mustaches, or long sideburns. Their heart should not be longer than the bottom of their ear and cannot be pinned in a bun or held in a ponytail.
Six Boys Suspended Over Rules
NBC News reported that because of the requirements of Magnolia ISD, at least six boys and one student assigned male at birth but now identifies as nonbinary got suspended. Texas’s American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) then filed a lawsuit on their behalf on Thursday. The case says the requirements violate sex-based discrimination and are asking to stop the enforcement of the policy.
Students Feel Dehumanized
The students reportedly feel dehumanized because of the suspension. The lawsuit noted that they were denied classroom instruction, barred from joining extracurricular activities, and forced to be suspended and separated from their peers for more than a month.
An ACLU staff attorney, Brian Klosterboer, told NBC News that the Magnolia ISD appears to take discipline to a detrimental level to students’ learning. Klosterboer added that one of the suspended students is a Latino. He wears a long ponytail to emulate his father and uncle with the same hairstyle as part of the family’s heritage. The boy is only nine years old, and after the in-school suspension, he was forced into a disciplinary alternative education program at another site. Now, that student is home-schooled.
As for the student who is non-binary, his mother said her 11-year-old had long hair for a long time. The hair length has never been a problem in the past. The mother said she has no idea why the policy changed, Texas Tribune reported.
School District Now Reviewing Lawsuit
The Magnolia ISD told NBC News through an e-mail that they are now reviewing the lawsuit and the grievances filed by parents. NBC News quoted the Magnolia ISD saying, “Magnolia ISD respects varying viewpoints, and we respect the rights of citizens to advocate for change. Magnolia ISD considers all factors set out in law when considering such requests.”
Some students and parents already expressed their opinion on the policy during a school board meeting. The Magnolia ISD responded that it had had a dress code policy for many years now. The ISD added that the policy does not violate Title IX and is annually included in the student handbook.