The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas has filed a lawsuit claiming a Houston-area school district’s policy has resulted in students being disciplined for having long hair, The Texas Tribune reports.
Six boys and a nonbinary student in the Magnolia Independent School District who range in ages from 7-17 are listed as plaintiffs.
The suit claims the district’s gender-based policy "imposed immense and irreparable harm" on the students.
The Tribune noted that the Magnolia school district’s student handbook says 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."
But the ACLU maintains many of the plaintiffs have worn long hair for years while enrolled in Magnolia ISD and have not faced any discipline until recently.
"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," Brian Klosterboer, a staff attorney at the ACLU of Texas, told The Hill.
The lawsuit claims the students have been threatened with or sent to in-school suspension for weeks at a time. In some instances, students were put in a "disciplinary alternative education program," and three of them left the school district.
"To be kicked out, pushed out, of school entirely simply because of their gender and their hair is really unconscionable," Klosterboer said.
One of the plaintiff’s is identified only as A.C., a 9-year-old Latino student who claims he wears long hair that he keeps in a ponytail and out of his face.
According to the suit, his family was told on the first day of school this year that he would need to cut his hair or he would be sent to in-school suspension.
But his mother said many men in the boy's family keep their hair long.
The suit claims that the boy was placed in in-school suspension for five weeks, where he was separated from other students.
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