Four Year Old Lets His Freak Flag Fly

December 18, 2009

The Mesquite, Texas Independent School District has barred four year old Taylor Pugh from attending pre-school because his hair is too long.  The District has a dress code that is enforced against all students, regardless of age.  His parents say that he wants to grow it long so that he can donate it to the Locks of Love Program.  The parents believe he has a right to wear his hair as he wants.

I doubt this will turn into a court battle, but this wouldn’t be the first time. The Supreme Court has ruled on a student’s right to First Amendment free expression, in the 1968 case Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District.  That case involved a student’s right to wear a black arm band to protest the Vietnam War.  The decision, however, did specifically fail to include matters of dress code and hairstyle in its free expression first amendment analysis.

Therefore, federal courts have come down on different sides of this issue. The decisions revolve around whether or not the regulations only incidentally infringe upon a student’s free expression rights. As a general rule, school districts are given wide latitude with dress codes because they foster hygiene and discipline.

For more information on this topic, read the First Amendment Center’s “student expression” page and this page from the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Whatever happens, the School district won’t come out looking too good here, especially since the kid is growing his hair to donate to other kids with cancer.  The story has been getting a lot of press, such as this article in the Dallas Morning News.

If you care to look, the School district Web Site contains the dress code that’s causing all this fuss. Then sit back and enjoy this old tune from the sixties.

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