The name of a small village in Germany is causing increasing concern. Some say it's time to rename the area. The seemingly idyllic village, verdant valley and nearby gushing river all carry the racially offensive name Neger (N-word in German). Calls grew especially louder after the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man by a white police officer in the United States in 2020, bringing a new impetus to the Black Lives Matter movement. The conversation taking place about the village is part of a larger reckoning worldwide as people consider the racist nature of the names of certain places an...
The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas is suing a Houston-area school district over a dress code policy it says has led to multiple students being disciplined for having long hair.
Plaintiffs in the lawsuit include six boys and a nonbinary student ages 7-17 from Magnolia Independent School District. According to the lawsuit, which was filed in federal district court Thursday morning, the Magnolia ISD gender-based policy "imposed immense and irreparable harm" on the students, some of whom claim they have worn long hair for years while attending school in the district without any repercussions.
The lawsuit says the students have been threatened with or sent to in-school suspension for weeks at a time; some were placed in a "disciplinary alternative education program," leading three of them to unenroll from the school district. The suit also states that while the plaintiffs have been disciplined for the length of their hair, other students with long hair, such as those on high school football teams, have not faced discipline.
"To be kicked out, pushed out, of school entirely simply because of their gender and their hair is really unconscionable," ACLU of Texas staff attorney Brian Klosterboer said.
Klosterboer said the ACLU warned Magnolia ISD numerous times about how its dress code policy's gender-specific requirements violate equal protection under the 14th Amendment and Title IX, which prohibits discrimination in education institutions on the basis of sex.
In a statement, Magnolia ISD disagreed with the ACLU's claims and said it was reviewing "the lawsuit with its legal counsel and looks forward to the opportunity to respond to the Court."
"This system of differentiated dress and grooming standards have been affirmed by courts and does not inhibit equal access to educational opportunities under Title IX," the district said. "The rules are included in the student handbook each year and are similar to the codes of approximately half of the public school districts in Texas."
In a letter sent to the district in August, the ACLU of Texas said it filed a grievance in 2019 on behalf of a Magnolia ISD parent who said her son was told to cut his hair or he'd be sent to in-school suspension. The letter also cited reports the ACLU of Texas received about students repeatedly being threatened with disciplinary action or being suspended for having long hair.
Danielle Miller, whose 11-year-old child is nonbinary and a plaintiff in the lawsuit against the district, said she received a phone call from her child's school at the beginning of this school year and was told that her child would have to cut their hair. The Texas Tribune does not disclose children's names for privacy reasons.
Miller said her child was "just in absolute devastation and tears" when she told them they would have to cut their hair.
Danielle Miller prepares her two children for school in their home in Magnolia on Thursday. One of her children is a plaintiff in an ACLU lawsuit against the Magnolia Independent School District over its policy on students' hair length. Credit: Annie Mulligan for The Texas Tribune
"... Based on [my child's] reaction and how harsh and traumatized they were, I realized that we weren't going to be cutting [their] hair," Miller said.
Miller's child was placed in in-school suspension for nine days, she said. The suspension was postponed during a 60-day window to appeal the decision, which has almost run its course, Miller said.
Miller said her child has had long hair for a couple of years and that their hair length had never been a problem before.
"I have no idea what changed," Miller said. "[The district is] not saying anything, they're not responding to anybody in the community about it."
The district said its administration and board of trustees have heard from a small group of parents about concerns over the dress code policy, and they "are currently in the process of considering parent grievances on this subject matter."
According to Magnolia ISD's 2021-22 student handbook, hair must "be no longer than the bottom of a dress shirt collar, bottom of the ear, and out of the eyes for male students." Hair also cannot "be pinned up in any fashion" or "worn in a ponytail or bun for male students."
However, the ACLU argues many of the plaintiffs have worn long hair for years while enrolled in Magnolia ISD and have not faced any discipline until this year. Klosterboer said some school districts in Texas tend to rely on "old and outdated case law" as the basis for their dress code policies.
Another plaintiff, a 9-year-old Latino student identified in the lawsuit as A.C., wears long hair that he keeps in a ponytail and out of his face. His family was told on the first day of school this year that he would need to cut his hair or be sent to in-school suspension, the lawsuit says. His mother said many men in A.C.'s family wear long hair, including his dad and uncle. A.C. did not cut his hair and was placed in in-school suspension for five weeks, where he was separated from other students and wasn't able to attend his regular classes.
In September, he was sent to a "disciplinary alternative education program" outside of school for seven weeks, where he faced potentially harsher punishment. According to the lawsuit, students who don't comply with the school district's hair length policy and are sent to the alternative education program may be required to have a parent sit in class with them, go to before- or after-school detention, or lose their desk, among other measures.
This month, A.C.'s family unenrolled him from the district. However, the suit says his placement in an alternative education program has made it difficult for him to enroll in another district and he is now being home-schooled.
"Magnolia ISD has harshly punished my son and driven him out of school entirely because he is a boy with long hair. ... The district needs to stop harming our children," Azucena Laredo, A.C.'s mother, said in a statement.
In 2020, a federal judge granted two Black students from a Houston-area school district temporary relief after they were told they would have to cut their hair, which they wore in dreadlocks, to abide by district dress code policy. The case, which caught national attention, also landed on the radar of Texas lawmakers, who introduced their own version of the CROWN Act, legislation that would prohibit hair discrimination based on hair texture and protective styles that are usually associated with race. The legislation, House Bill 392, advanced out of committee during the regular session but was not taken up on the House floor for a vote.
Outside of Texas, federal courts have ruled in cases from Indiana and North Carolina that gender-specific dress codes could be linked to gender discrimination under federal law, according to the ACLU and the Texas Association of School Boards.
Disclosure: Texas Association of School Boards has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune's journalism. Find a complete list of them here.
As part of his analysis of the upcoming gubernatorial race in Virginia between Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin, CNN pollster Harry Enten suggested the Democrat will likely prevail -- in no small part over voters distaste for Donald Trump -- and that it should serve as a warning to the Republican Party.
As Enten notes -- in the case of Virginia -- President Joe Biden's approval numbers are "underwater," which should be bad news for the Democratic candidate, but Trump is widely reviled in the state and is dragging Youngkin down with him after plugging his run.
Writing, "In Virginia, and even nationally on the generic congressional ballot, Democrats are holding onto slim within-the-margin-of-error advantages. Why? It could be in part because former President Donald Trump is unusually present for a politician not in office, and he's as -- if not more -- unpopular than Biden," Enten added that the Democrats should thank their lucky stars that Trump is an anchor around Youngkin's neck.
With that in mind, Enten suggested that no one really has a handle on how Trump will impact elections beyond Virginia's November 15 turn at the polls.
"A CBS News/YouGov poll from Virginia shows just how motivating a factor Trump is in whether voters cast a ballot. A majority of likely voters (51%) said feelings about Trump were very motivating. That's basically the same as the 48% who said the same thing about their feelings toward Biden," he wrote. "Separate polling from a Monmouth University poll in August showed that about the same share of Virginia voters indicated that Trump was a major factor in their 2021 vote as they did in 2017.
"This is something we're seeing nationally as well. Trump continues to cast a shadow in a way I'm not sure we fully appreciate."
"Trump being this much in the spotlight probably hurts Republicans more than it helps. Trump had a -13 point net favorability rating in a Quinnipiac University poll this week. Biden's was -12 points in the same poll. Other polls have Biden's net popularity ratings in a somewhat better, though still negative, position<" he explained before adding, "...right now, Democrats maintain a low single-digit lead on the generic congressional ballot. That's not much different than their 3-point win in the House popular vote in 2020."
According to the CNN analyst, Republican Party leaders should take a hard look at what happens in Virginia.
"If, on the other hand, McAuliffe is the victor, it will likely lead to plenty of discussion about whether it's good for Republicans to continue to have Trump this present on the political scene," he warned.
You can read more here.
Speaking to Vanity Fair, a friend of Mike Pence says the former vice president is still upset over the fact that Donald Trump put him and his family in danger on Jan. 6.
Pence is reportedly "still angry that Trump placed his and his family members' lives in jeopardy," Vanity Fair reports, citing Pence's friend. Trump and Pence "still trade phone calls sporadically," according to their advisers.
During the Capitol riot, Trump supporters were caught on video chanting "Hang Mike Pence!"
"I heard at least 3 different rioters at the Capitol say that they hoped to find Vice President Mike Pence and execute him by hanging him from a Capitol Hill tree as a traitor," reported Reuters photographer Jim Bourg. "It was a common line being repeated. Many more were just talking about how the VP should be executed."
Trump and Pence have avoided being seen together in public. Pence is reportedly seeking a 2024 presidential bid.
"He's making real money for the first time in his life," said one longtime friend. "Running for president is also a great way of making six-figure speeches."
Read the full report at Vanity Fair.
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