Best Kids Haircuts Biography
Does a public school engage in sex discrimination by making male athletes get haircuts but allowing girls on sports teams to have flowing locks?
Yes, according to the Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled this week that an Indiana school board discriminated against a teenage boy who was kicked off the eighth-grade basketball team after he refused to cut his hair.
The decision, which overturns a trial-court ruling from last year, stems from a lawsuit brought by the parents of a Greensburg, Ind., public-school student, who, like a lot of teenagers, apparently didn’t appreciate authority figures telling him to change his hair.
The teen’s mom, according to court papers, said her son kept his hair short when he played basketball in seventh grade but “didn’t feel like himself.” When he entered eighth grade in 2010, he started letting it grow out. The coach warned him that he better pay a visit to the barber, but the boy shunned the clippers and protested to school administrators, who wouldn’t budge either. Weeks later, he was kicked off the team, according to the lawsuit, which accused the Greensburg school board of sex-discrimination and violating the student’s due-process rights.
“This case is not just about a haircut as the Greensburg School Corporation claims,” the lawyer for the parents had argued to the appeals court in a brief. “This case is about an infringement on a fundamental constitutional right…. This is a case about a kid who was forced to choose between the game he loves and not feeling like himself if he cut his hair.”
On Monday, the appeals panel said that while hair length isn’t a fundamental right, the haircut policy “impermissibly discriminates based on sex.”
“What we have before us is a policy that draws an explicit distinction between male and female athletes and imposes a burden on male athletes alone,” Judge Ilana D. Rovner wrote for the majority.
The judge continued, “Girls playing interscholastic basketball have the same need as boys do to keep their hair out of their eyes, to subordinate individuality to team unity, and to project a positive image. Why, then, must only members of the boys team wear their hair short?”
The Seventh Circuit returned the case to the trial court to decide damages.
Thomas Wheeler, an attorney representing the school board, said the majority opinion made a mistake and that he plans to ask the entire Seventh Circuit to review it. “We have the option of going to the Supreme Court,” he said.
The lawyer for the parents was unavailable for comment. The boy’s father, who was arrested this month on felony charges of forging prescriptions, couldn’t be reached for comment.
Judge Daniel A. Manion dissented, saying a grooming policy isn’t necessarily discriminatory just because the codes for girls and boys aren’t identical. “Distinction is not discrimination,” he wrote. “Requiring men, but not women, to keep their hair at a certain length has never been held to be unequally burdensome.”
Judge Manion added in a footnote that he’s not surprised that Greensburg didn’t have a hair-length requirement for girls. “Female athletes usually compete with their hair worn up in a ponytail, bun, or ‘knot top’ so that it does not obstruct their vision or get snagged or tangled during encounters such as scrambling for a loose ball or a rebound,” he wrote.