ILNews

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

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

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.
 

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. The ADA acts as a tax upon all for the benefit of a few. And, most importantly, the many have no individual say in whether they pay the tax. Those with handicaps suffered in military service should get a pass, but those who are handicapped by accident or birth do NOT deserve that pass. The drivel about "equal access" is spurious because the handicapped HAVE equal access, they just can't effectively use it. That is their problem, not society's. The burden to remediate should be that of those who seek the benefit of some social, constructional, or dimensional change, NOT society generally. Everybody wants to socialize the costs and concentrate the benefits of government intrusion so that they benefit and largely avoid the costs. This simply maintains the constant push to the slop trough, and explains, in part, why the nation is 20 trillion dollars in the hole.

  2. Hey 2 psychs is never enough, since it is statistically unlikely that three will ever agree on anything! New study admits this pseudo science is about as scientifically valid as astrology ... done by via fortune cookie ....John Ioannidis, professor of health research and policy at Stanford University, said the study was impressive and that its results had been eagerly awaited by the scientific community. “Sadly, the picture it paints - a 64% failure rate even among papers published in the best journals in the field - is not very nice about the current status of psychological science in general, and for fields like social psychology it is just devastating,” he said. http://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/aug/27/study-delivers-bleak-verdict-on-validity-of-psychology-experiment-results

  3. Indianapolis Bar Association President John Trimble and I are on the same page, but it is a very large page with plenty of room for others to join us. As my final Res Gestae article will express in more detail in a few days, the Great Recession hastened a fundamental and permanent sea change for the global legal service profession. Every state bar is facing the same existential questions that thrust the medical profession into national healthcare reform debates. The bench, bar, and law schools must comprehensively reconsider how we define the practice of law and what it means to access justice. If the three principals of the legal service profession do not recast the vision of their roles and responsibilities soon, the marketplace will dictate those roles and responsibilities without regard for the public interests that the legal profession professes to serve.

  4. I have met some highly placed bureaucrats who vehemently disagree, Mr. Smith. This is not your father's time in America. Some ideas are just too politically incorrect too allow spoken, says those who watch over us for the good of their concept of order.

  5. Lets talk about this without forgetting that Lawyers, too, have FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND ASSOCIATION

ADVERTISEMENT