Education News

Boys and nonbinary students at Magnolia ISD can have long hair for now, after a judge temporarily blocked the district’s ban

Seven Magnolia ISD students filed a federal lawsuit against the district last week over a policy that prohibits boys — and not girls — from wearing long hair.

Lucio Vasquez / Houston Public Media
Magnolia ISD’s long-hair policy forces boys to wear hair that is "no longer than the bottom of a dress shirt collar," and prohibits hair that is "worn in a ponytail or bun."

A federal judge on Monday granted a temporary restraining order to seven Magnolia ISD students who sued the district last week over a policy that prohibits boys from wearing long hair.

The order allows students who were barred from classroom instruction and extracurricular activities to return to school without fear of punishment, according to ACLU Attorney Brian Klosterboer.

"Students and parents in Magnolia ISD can breathe a sigh of relief that the district's harmful and discriminatory hair policy will stop being enforced against them,” Klosterboer said. “The district should never have violated these students' constitutional rights in the first place or forced them to conform to gender stereotypes.”

The news comes after seven students — six boys and one nonbinary student — filed a lawsuit in federal court against the district last week, alleging gender discrimination over a long-hair policy that caused “severe, ongoing, and escalating harms," according to court documents.

The policy prohibits boys — and not girls — from wearing hair that is “longer than the bottom of a dress shirt collar,” according to the district’s 2021-2022 student handbook. Students who violate this policy could face disciplinary action, including out-of-school suspension, according to the district's student code of conduct.

The lawsuit alleges that the policy violates the equal protection clause of the Constitution and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits the discrimination of students on the basis of gender.

Magnolia ISD’s executive director of communications did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Danielle Miller, the mother of an 11-year-old nonbinary student dubbed T.M. in the lawsuit due to their age, said she was glad her child could return to school without being threatened with punishment.

“It's frustrating that Magnolia refuses to simply change this outdated policy,” Miller said. “I hope today's ruling is a sign that change will finally come to the school district.”

CORRECTION: Due to an editing error, the headline to this story initially misidentified the district in the lawsuit. It is Magnolia ISD.

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