School districts may require students to follow dress and grooming codes and can even require students to wear uniforms, but they can’t discriminate on the basis of race, gender, religion or other aspects of students’ identities. Every student has a right to dress in accordance with their gender identity at school. School districts and administrators cannot force students to conform to gender stereotypes, nor can they require students to dress in a way they determine aligns with a student’s sex assigned at birth.
Courts across the country have also found it to be unconstitutional and a violation of Title IX for school districts to impose different dress and grooming requirements based on gender. In De’Andre Arnold v. Barbers Hill ISD, a federal court determined it was unconstitutional for a school district to require male, but not female, students to wear short hair and to not allow Black male students to wear long hair or locs. The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly stated that government entities (including school districts or charter schools) cannot discriminate against students based on gender. And forcing students to conform to gender stereotypes is illegal under federal law.
The Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) has recognized recent changes in federal law and recommends that school districts adopt gender-neutral dress and grooming codes.
If you or someone you know is facing discrimination related to dress and grooming codes, you can seek legal assistance through the ACLU of Texas or Lambda Legal.