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ACLU of Texas, [email protected]

December 14, 2021

HOUSTON — The school board for the Magnolia Independent School District voted on Monday night to reverse its unconstitutional hair policy that requires boys to wear short hair.

The decision comes after the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, the ACLU Women’s Rights Project, and the law firms of Ahmad, Zavitsanos, Anaipakos, Alavi & Mensing P.C. and Susman Godfrey LLP challenged the policy in October on behalf of six boys and one non-binary student who faced severe harm from Magnolia ISD’s policy of explicit gender discrimination. Shortly after the case was filed, the U.S. Court for the Southern District of Texas blocked Magnolia ISD’s gender-based hair policy from being enforced against several plaintiffs, finding that the policy likely violated the U.S. Constitution and Title IX.

At the start of this school year, Magnolia ISD suspended several plaintiffs and other students, barred them from attending regular classes and extracurricular activities, and forced three plaintiffs out of school entirely — all for simply wearing long hair. Every plaintiff has now been able to return to school and all students in Magnolia ISD can wear long hair without fear of being punished or forced to conform to gender stereotypes. Under the settlement agreement approved by the school board, students who were previously disciplined under this discriminatory hair policy will have their records expunged and Magnolia ISD’s dress code will now be gender neutral.

The ACLU of Texas previously sent a letter to nearly 500 other school districts in Texas that maintain similarly outdated and unconstitutional dress codes. Many districts are now updating their policies to no longer discriminate against students based on gender.

ACLU of Texas attorney Brian Klosterboer issued the following statement on the school board’s decision:

“Students and families in Magnolia ISD have fought hard for this victory and can finally celebrate that the district’s dress code will no longer punish students based solely on gender. But this lawsuit should never have needed to be filed. Dress codes that discriminate against students have no place in our public schools and plainly violate the U.S. Constitution and federal law. 
In the wake of this decision, more school districts across the state are updating similarly outdated and unlawful policies. We are heartened that they understand how vital it is that no school district subject students to dress codes that impose gender stereotypes.” 

Danielle Miller, the mother of an 11-year-old non-binary plaintiff who was suspended for wearing long hair, gave the following statement about the school board decision:

"I told my child that I would not stop fighting for their right to fully be themselves at school. We are both feeling relief today with the school board’s decision to stop discriminating against students based on gender. Our community never gave up fighting to put an end to this harmful policy. We hope today’s result will be a sign to other school districts in Texas that changing discriminatory policies like these is the right thing to do.”