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High school basketball team’s hair-length policy is discriminatory

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A dispute pitting long hair against an attempt to promote a clean-cut image of Hoosier boys’ basketball is headed for overtime since the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals found a high school’s hair-length requirements pertaining only to male basketball players violated equal protection and Title IX.

Patrick and Melissa Hayden challenged the short-hair policy of the Greensburg public high school that members of the boys’ basketball team must keep their locks cut above the ears, eyebrows and collars. The team coach, Stacy Meyer, set the policy to promote team unity and project a clean-cut image.

The Haydens filed a lawsuit against the school system when their son, A.H. was prohibited from practicing with the team because his hair was longer than permitted. They argued the short-hair mandate constitutes sex discrimination because it applies to boys and not girls.

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District Court of Indiana, Indianapolis Division, rejected the parents’ equal protection and Title IX claims on the grounds that the short-hair requirement does not apply to all boys’ teams.

Although the policy was not universally applied, the 7th Circuit found that it was still based on gender. The hair-length rule applied only to male athletes even though female athletes had the same need to keep their hair from their eyes and promote team unity. The 7th Circuit found the obvious disparity of the policy gave rise to an inference of discrimination.

The 7th Circuit reversed the judgments in favor of the Greensburg School Corp. on the equal protection and Title IX claims in Patrick Hayden and Melissa Hayden, on behalf of their minor child, A.H. v. Greensburg Community School Corp., et al., 13-1757.

“It is also worth reiterating that Coach Meyer’s policy prohibits far more than an Age-of-Aquarius, Tiny-Tim, hair-crawling-past-the-shoulders sort of hair style – it compels all male basketball players to wear genuinely short hair,” Judge Ilana Rovner wrote for the majority. “In 2014, it is not obvious that any and all hair worn over the ears, collar, or eyebrows would be out of the mainstream among males in the Greensburg community at large, among the student body, or among school athletes. (Even one or two men on this court might find themselves in trouble with Coach Meyer for hair over the ears.)”

Judge Daniel Manion dissented, in part. He noted while he agreed with the court’s general summary of the law of equal protection, the record did not establish any violation of the Equal Protection Clause or Title IX.
 

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  1. I expressed my thought in the title, long as it was. I am shocked that there is ever immunity from accountability for ANY Government agency. That appears to violate every principle in the US Constitution, which exists to limit Government power and to ensure Government accountability. I don't know how many cases of legitimate child abuse exist, but in the few cases in which I knew the people involved, in every example an anonymous caller used DCS as their personal weapon to strike at innocent people over trivial disagreements that had no connection with any facts. Given that the system is vulnerable to abuse, and given the extreme harm any action by DCS causes to families, I would assume any degree of failure to comply with the smallest infraction of personal rights would result in mandatory review. Even one day of parent-child separation in the absence of reasonable cause for a felony arrest should result in severe penalties to those involved in the action. It appears to me, that like all bureaucracies, DCS is prone to interpret every case as legitimate. This is not an accusation against DCS. It is a statement about the nature of bureaucracies, and the need for ADDED scrutiny of all bureaucratic actions. Frankly, I question the constitutionality of bureaucracies in general, because their power is delegated, and therefore unaccountable. No Government action can be unaccountable if we want to avoid its eventual degeneration into irrelevance and lawlessness, and the law of the jungle. Our Constitution is the source of all Government power, and it is the contract that legitimizes all Government power. To the extent that its various protections against intrusion are set aside, so is the power afforded by that contract. Eventually overstepping the limits of power eliminates that power, as a law of nature. Even total tyranny eventually crumbles to nothing.

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