Students and parents in Magnolia Independent School District can breathe a sigh of relief that the district’s archaic, discriminatory dress code is a thing of the past

No student should ever be punished or pushed out of school because of their gender. But that is tragically what happened earlier this fall, when Magnolia ISD harshly disciplined students and pushed three students out of school entirely simply because of their gender and for wearing long hair. 

On Oct. 21, we sued the school district on behalf of six boys and a non-binary student who were severely punished and threatened with punishment for wearing long hair. Magnolia ISD maintained an outdated, gender-based policy that required boys, but not girls, to wear short hair. So we took the district to court and won because this type of discriminatory dress code violates the U.S. Constitution and Title IX. 
The federal court agreed with us in its initial ruling and swiftly ordered Magnolia ISD to let our clients return to school without being forced to cut their hair. These students were elated to return to school without being forced to conform to the district’s outdated gender stereotype that boys wear short hair. The court’s decision also reinforced what we have advised school districts against for years: dress codes that discriminate based on gender violate federal law and have no place in our society.
Following our initial win in court, Magnolia ISD agreed to stop enforcing all gender-based provisions of its dress code and to let every student in the district wear long hair without being punished. And on Dec. 13, the Magnolia ISD school board voted to permanently change its dress code to be gender neutral. This means that our clients have won this lawsuit and no student in the district can ever be punished again under this discriminatory, gender-based policy.
Even though this lawsuit is over, we have seen similar cases across the state where discriminatory dress codes have severely harmed Texas students based on gender, race, or religion. Black students have routinely been targeted and pushed out of school for wearing natural Black hair, including in Barbers Hill ISD and Tatum ISD, where Black boys as young as four and five years old were wrongfully expelled from school for wearing their natural Black hair.
We also regularly hear from Indigenous students who face discrimination for wearing long hair reflecting their culture, heritage, and beliefs. Recently, a five-year-old student in Sharyland ISD who is both Latino and Native American was forced to spend a month in suspension because of his school district’s discriminatory hair policy and failure to respect his Indigenous heritage and beliefs.

This treatment is unacceptable, illegal, and incredibly isolating and harmful to students who have done absolutely nothing wrong. Other school districts shouldn’t wait until they are sued to change their policies like Magnolia ISD, but should take proactive steps to review and update their dress codes to ensure that no student is discriminated against based on gender, race, or religion. 

We can all agree that every student deserves an education free from discrimination, and we won’t stop fighting until every student in Texas has the same opportunity to succeed and thrive in school.