Magnolia ISD was just hit with a lawsuit over gender discrimination allegations.
Magnolia ISD is at the center of a lawsuit alleging gender discrimination. The federal suit was filed earlier this week by seven students. The students claim the district’s policy prohibiting boys from wearing long hair is sexists and violates their rights.
The suit itself was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas. The plaintiffs include six boys and one nonbinary student who argue they “were subject to severe, ongoing, and escalating harms after refusing to cut their hair.” Specifically, they were “denied classroom instruction, barred from extracurricular activities, and in some cases, suspended and separated from their peers for over a month.”
When commenting on the matter, Brian Klosterboer, an ACLU attorney, said:
“At a time when students have already been through so much due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is outrageous that Magnolia ISD administrators are pushing students out of school because of their gender and hair…The district needs to stop hurting its students.”
The hair policy is in the district’s student handbook and states that “a male student’s hair must be no longer than the bottom of a dress shirt collar, bottom of the ear, and out of the eyes and cannot be pinned up in any fashion nor be worn in a ponytail or bun.” However, the policy does not apply to female students in the district. The punishments for violating the dress code include in-school suspensions, being sent to an alternative education program, or a full suspension.
According to the plaintiff’s legal team, the district 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.”
So far, Magnolia ISD has pushed back against the allegations and claims the dress code policy is in line with federal law. Denise Meyers, the district’s executive director of communications, said:
“Like hundreds of public school districts in Texas and across the country, MISD’s rules for dress and grooming distinguish between male and female dress and grooming standards…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.”
So far, three students have unenrolled from the district as a result of the policy and three others eventually cut their hair. It’s important to note, however, that the dress code policy has been paused against the nonbinary student. Due to the age of the student, the suit refers to them as T.M. When asked about the matter, T.M.’s mother, Azucena Laredo, said,
“My son has never once gotten his hair cut…But Magnolia ISD has harshly punished my son and driven him out of school entirely because he is a boy with long hair. This is unconscionable and the district needs to stop harming our children.”