At its Nov. 15 meeting, the Tomball ISD board of trustees unanimously approved removing hair and earring guidelines for male students from the district’s dress code. Board Assistant Secretary Justin Unser was not present at the regular meeting.
At the board’s workshop meeting Nov. 14, Director of Administrative Services Karen Graves presented the results of a student survey regarding hair length and earrings.
In the survey, 3,585 students across Tomball High School, Tomball Memorial High School and Tomball Star Academy responded with 78.7% disagreeing with the statement that longer hair on male students that extends below the collar is a distraction to the learning environment, according to the survey results.
In the survey, 81.4% of students surveyed said they disagreed that earrings on male students are distracting to the learning environment.
“To recap, the student feedback questionnaire indicates, again, that the majority of students are not distracted by male students who have long hair or wear earrings,” Graves said during her presentation. “Also, as a reminder, all districts contiguous to Tomball ISD have removed such provisions from their dress code, and the Student Advisory Council has studied this and discussed possible revisions to the dress code guidelines for the past three years.”
Unser said during the workshop meeting that the survey seemed representative of the high school student body.
“I’m impressed with our students, again, for responding and providing input,” Unser said at the Nov. 14 meeting.
During discussion at the Nov. 15 meeting, Trustee Michael Pratt said he personally struggled with the proposed change.
“But I wanted to hear the student voice and in a resounding way, [the] student voice is resonating here,” Pratt said. “I’m also concerned about court cases that have ruled against districts who had specific dress code provisions for either boys or girls specific to hair length or earrings.”
Last October in Magnolia ISD, the American Civil Liberties United of Texas and ACLU Women’s Rights Project sued MISD over its hair length policy, which ultimately was changed in December 2021.
Board Vice President Lee McLeod said he thinks the removal is a good thing.
“I think we’re prudent to have come to this [decision],” McLeod said.