The motion to decline taking action on the grievance appeal passed unanimously. In the motion, trustee Gary Blizzard said the board is not taking action because the dress code is part of pending litigation.
The district is facing a lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, which alleges MISD’s gender-based policies violate Title IX and the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution, Community Impact Newspaper previously reported. On Nov. 4, the district agreed to temporarily pause enforcement of its gender-based hair policy, which states boys' hair cannot be longer than the bottom of a dress shirt collar, along with two other gender-based dress code standards, according to previous reporting.
Michael Berger Jr., whose grievance the school board heard at its meeting, said the process for trying to change the dress code has been frustrating, slow and tedious. His son, Tristan Berger, a junior at Magnolia High School, was forced to cut his hair after spending weeks in in-school suspension.
“I wish I never had to come here, and I wish I never had to do this,” Michael Berger Jr. said in an interview. “I wish [the school board] didn’t know who I was.”
Danielle Miller, mother of a nonbinary fifth grade student in the district, urged the board to permanently stop enforcement of its gender-based policies and change the dress code.
“This change cannot be temporary,” Miller said to board members during public comments Nov. 8. “This change needs to be permanent so that no child will ever have to face the harassment and bullying that these children have to endure this year by you.”
Although the school board did not take action at its Nov. 8 meeting, enforcement of the district’s gender-based policies is on hold until the end of litigation, which Brian Klosterboer, ACLU of Texas staff attorney, said he believes puts students in a better spot. Klosterboer said it is upsetting it took the district until November to place the dress code on the agenda.
“It is a little bit perplexing that they choose not to act sooner,” Klosterboer said in an interview with Community Impact Newspaper. “They heard from parents for the last three months complaining about this policy and asking them to change it. It’s sad that it took a federal lawsuit to get to [this] point.”
MISD declined to provide further comment.