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ACLU Fights Expulsion Of Student With Long Hair

January 15, 1985

SLIDELL, La. (AP) _ Arguing that the case involves sexual discrimination, the American Civil Liberties Union has moved to defend a youngster expelled from school because his hair is too long.

Slidell High School Principal Joseph C. Buccaran said Monday that David Hultz, 15, was expelled on Nov. 27 solely because his hair was longer than the shoulder-length limit specified in a dress code established in the mid-1970s.

Hultz said Monday that he wears his hair an inch or so below his shoulders.

He said the expulsion ″is hurting my education. I hate to see the school use that - your education - to manipulate you.″

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals concluded 13 years ago in a sharply divided opinion that hair length was not a constitutional question.

However, Martha Kegel, executive director of the Louisiana ACLU, said that ruling didn’t consider the possibility that dress codes regulating hair length might discriminate on the basis of sex.

The parish dress code restricts a male student’s hair to shoulder length, but doesn’t set a standard for the hair length of female students.

″In view of the virtual revolution in the past decade in judicial recognition of unconstitutional sex discrimination, the courts and the public today are increasingly suspicious of rules which restrict the conduct of persons simply because of their sex,″ Ms. Kegel said in a letter to the St. Tammany Parish School Board.

Board President Frank W. Sharp was the head of a committee that drew up the dress code a decade ago.

″We were just trying to establish a reasonable code in a time when there was some real long hair,″ Sharp said Monday.

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