Tuesday, June 19, 2012

School District Repeals Ban on Boys Wearing Earrings

The Jefferson County (Alabama) Board of Education voted this week to repeal a policy stating "ear jewelry may be worn by females only." After a male high school student was forced to remove his stud earrings from his newly-pierced ears, the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote a letter to the school board urging it to reconsider its ban on male earrings, which resulted in the board's decision to change course.  SPLC argued that the ban violated the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution as well as Title IX because it invoked archaic gender stereotypes and treated students differently based on sex without a persuasive justification.  The ban also constituted a violation of the First Amendment's right to free speech, which also covers expressive conduct such as what one wears to make a statement.