New Report Highlights How Dress Codes Discriminate Against Texas Students

Last month, the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas (ACLU Texas) released the Dressed to Express Report to highlight the role that dress codes have played in discrimination in Texas public schools. The data, collected from over 1,100 Texas public schools, “provides insight into the prevalence of inequitable dress and grooming codes across Texas schools, their negative impacts on students, and recommendations for creating more inclusive policies.”

Some revealing data during the 2022-23 school year shows that:

  • 53% of surveyed districts force students to follow dress codes rooted in outdated gender norms and stereotypes, including boys-only hair length rules and other rules that only apply to girls.
  • Over 7% of 2022-2023 dress codes ban race-based hair textures and styles, which are now explicitly protected by the CROWN Act for the 2023-2024 school year.
  • More than 80% of surveyed districts prohibit head-coverings, many without naming religious and cultural exemptions, further alienating students of certain religious and cultural backgrounds and putting the responsibility on their guardians to petition districts for permission.

These statistics, coupled with the ongoing struggle of Darryl George, a high school junior who has been suspended since August 2023 from Barbers Hill ISD for his hairstyle, highlight the prevalence of this underreported form of discrimination in schools across the state. By removing discriminatory language, incorporating community involvement and regular review, and centering respect for student expression, our public schools can serve Texas students better.

You can read the entire report on the ACLU Texas website, where you can also find tools to help you challenge discriminatory dress codes or policies in your district.

If you have a story that’s related to this issue, you can share it with the ACLU. Sharing our stories is a powerful way to bring awareness to the scope of this issue — and advocate for our schools to update their outdated policies.

This information and more are available in ACLU Texas’ Students Rights Hub.