Another Texas school district is being accused of discriminating against a Black student’s hairstyle.
An 8th grade student named Maddox was required to cut his hair in March 2021 then given in-school suspension because of his longer hairstyle.
Maddox has since been given ISS every subsequent school day.
His parents have enlisted the help of attorney Waukeen McCoy to fight what they believe is a discriminatory dress code policy and unfair punishment.
In a letter sent to the Troy Independent School District, McCoy outlines the family’s position and demands Maddox be allowed to return to normal classes and that the district changes its policy.
“As mentioned previously, Troy Independent School District’s and Raymond Mays Middle School’s dress code explicitly applies different standards to female and male students, including in regards to their hair length and hairstyles. The dress code requires that students conform to gendered expectations of dress and grooming. These policies have further been enforced in a racially discriminatory manner, as non-Black male students in Troy Independent School District have not been punished for wearing their hair in a bun, as Maddox has. These policies regarding hair length and hairstyles serve no legitimate purpose, and are being used to limit students’ ability to express themselves freely regardless of their race, sex, gender, or gender identity.
Troy Independent School District and Raymond Mays Middle School have also failed to provide any facts or data demonstrating that the length and/or style of a student’s hair has been distracting to their classmates. The length and style that Maddox wears his hair has not harmed any of his fellow students, and he is entitled to receive the same education as his peers alongside them.
Without any empirical data to justify implementing such a dress code policy, we are hereby requesting that Maddox be allowed to attend his regular classes with the other students. We further request that Troy Independent School District and Raymond Mays Middle School remove the policies in fn. 1, which serve no legitimate purpose. Pursuant to the Texas Equal Rights Amendment, it is your burden to demonstrate that District’s discriminatory treatment of its students in this dress code is necessary to protect the District’s compelling interest. See In Re McLean 725 SW 2d 696, 698 (TX 1987). The District and Raymond Mays Middle School have failed to meet this burden and failed to outline any legitimate justification for their actions. Further, under the current Texas Education Code, any suspension of a child for violating a dress code policy based on their hairstyle or hair length would be legal only if the child is documented as being extremely unruly, disruptive, or abusive. Maddox has not been documented as having behaved in any such manner. Thus, any future discipline based on Maddox’s hair length or hair style is unwarranted and illegal.”
The school district has yet to respond. Hopefully in 2021 we see the end of arbitrary gender-based dress code policies.