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My son Ben, an eleven-year-old who is devoted in equal parts to soccer and his long and shaggy hair, can rest easy tonight. A boy in Indiana (who just happens to share his last name) has sued for and won the right for male athletes to wear their hair long during the season—or at least for the right not to be forced to cut their hair while female athletes are allowed to wear theirs long.

In Hayden v. Greensburg Community School Corp., the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that A.H., a boy who was repeatedly cut from the basketball team because of his refusal to cut his hair short—“above the ears, eyebrows, and collar,” per the policy of the boys’ basketball coach—was the victim of illegal sex discrimination. In this column, I’ll discuss the ruling and why, although it corrects some of the missteps of other federal courts in grooming code cases, it does not go far enough to eliminate the gross stereotyping implicit in many sex-specific appearance codes.



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