The parents of a former Greensburg Junior High basketball player are asking a federal court to declare the team's haircut policy unconstitutional.
In a lawsuit filed last week in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis, Patrick and Melissa Hayden say team rules governing the length of players' hair violate their son's right to wear his hair the way he wants and also treat male and female athletes differently because female players don't have to adhere to the same guidelines.
Their 14-year-old son, identified as A.H. in the lawsuit, was kicked off the team this fall after he refused to cut his hair to comply with team rules, which require players' hair to be above their eyebrows, collars and ears.
The Haydens said in the lawsuit that they met with the basketball coach and school officials, but no one would change the policy. So they sued.
"What they're trying to do here is teach (their son) a life lesson, which simply is that you fight for what's right," said Ron Frazier, the Haydens' attorney. "This is classic David versus Goliath, and they want their son to understand that."
The Haydens are asking the court to force the schools to stop enforcing the team's haircut policy and rule that it's unconstitutional, as well as award any necessary damages to the family.
But the school district claims the policy didn't violate the boy's rights, partly because participating in extracurricular activities is a privilege, not a right.
In California, sports and cheerleading are considered integral enough to the school experience that they fall under the state constitution's requirement for a free education--meaning that we can't charge for participation in such activities. In California, at least, such participation is closer to a right than to a privilege. Of course, it may be different in Indiana.
Let's assume for a moment that it doesn't violate the student's so-called right to have long hair. What possible legitimate reason could there be for this rule? It's stupid, it's a power thing, and it needs to go away--the sooner, the better.