INDIANAPOLIS – A southeast Indiana school districts policy requiring boys basketball players to have short hair violates equal protection laws, a federal appeals court has ruled.
The 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals reversed a lower court decision and ruled Monday in favor of Patrick and Melissa Hayden after they challenged the grooming policy at Greensburg Community School Corp. that affected their son and other boys but not girls, the Indianapolis Star reported.
The Haydens sued in December 2010 in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis after their son, identified as A.H. in court documents, was removed from his junior high basketball team for refusing to cut his hair above the ears, eyebrows and collar.
The grooming policy had been established by the high school boys basketball coach, Stacy Meyer, to promote team unity and to project a clean cut image.
The boy was 14 at the time. Hes now 17 and playing basketball at Norwell High School in Ossian about 15 miles south of Fort Wayne.
The Haydens argued that rules governing the length of players hair violated their sons right to wear his hair as he wanted.
They contended the policy also treated male and female athletes differently.
They also pointed out that the rule applied only to the boys basketball and baseball teams. Members of all other male and female teams could wear their hair as they liked.
The Haydens said in the lawsuit that they met with school officials but the policy did not change.
The school district argued the policy did not violate the rights of the Haydens son, partly because participating in extracurricular activities is a privilege, not a right.