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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Family Law
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Experience:  Experienced attorney: Family law, Estate Law, SS Law etc.
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Can the school require a boy to cut his hair short (above the

Customer Question

Can the school require a boy to cut his hair short (above the ears) just to be able to play basketball?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 5 years ago.
The school gets to make the rules, especially for participation in extracurricular activities. Outside of participation in extracurricular activities, which is not guaranteed by law as is being able to attend school (if this is a public school), the school can enforce dress and hygeiene rules as part of their discipline rules, although they have been challenged by various groups such as the ACLU.


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Customer: replied 5 years ago.
The exact wording is - "Appearance: Hair - not in eyes, no tails, short (see the ear), normal hair color, nothing that sticks out!" How is it that they can put a rule like "nothing that sticks out" in the book when each individual has qualities that stick out? There is one black player on the team has a hairdo that sticks out and they don't make him cut it. The girls are not required to cut their hair short to play. There are also other boys on the team that have longer hairdos. Why do they all have to cut their hair to conform to the coaches idea of the ideal basketball player? Is there anything we can do to stop this type of discrimination in the schools? Aren't we trying to teach the children not to discriminate because of looks?
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 5 years ago.
You know, this has been the argument of the ACLU on several similar cases and the courts have all ruled in favor of the school seeking to enforce the rule. As far as the other boys on the team with longer hair, you could complain about the rule not being equally enforced to the principal, but all that will do is cause your son problems on the team and may cost him playing time as well.

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
So, basically, your telling me that the school can get away with making students conform to their ideals on the grounds of discipline? Even though if you or I tried to enforce the same rule, for the same reason, in our workplace we could be discriminating. What if his were long because of our religious beliefs or ethnic background?
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 5 years ago.
Ahh, but we would not be discriminatory in the workplace if it were based upon safety or legitimate busines reasons. Such as employers can enforce dress codes and hygeine codes (such as no facial hair).

While I agree with your theory that school should be about education and not appearance and tolerance should be practiced, the courts do not see it that way. As a matter of fact there was one ACLU case where the court upheld the school's right to bar a Jamaican student from coming to school with dreads because they claimed it was unsanitary and a distraction to the other students.

Students have very few rights in the courts when it comes to schools and school rules.

Law Educator, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 88627
Experience: Experienced attorney: Family law, Estate Law, SS Law etc.
Law Educator, Esq. and 5 other Family Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Thank you for your time and advice. I guess we'll just try discussing the issue with the coach and hopefully she will accept his recent haircut. I just don't think that in a small school (7th grade class is 58 students) that discipline is such a problem that they would have to make the players sacrifice their identity for basketball. It only teaches them that the way you look is more important than the way you play and/or work. It is very sad.
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 5 years ago.
Actually, you should be careful and tactful in approaching the coach so as to not hurt his chances on the team. Good luck.

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