The Jefferson County (Ala.) Board of Education voted this morning to repeal its ban on male students wearing earrings, according to a statement released by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The board in a special meeting approved the change, which will be included in the student code of conduct for the coming school year, according to the statement. The SPLC had contended that the policy discriminated on the basis of gender and violated students' free-speech rights.
"This is about more than an ability to wear an item of jewelry," Sam Wolfe, a civil rights attorney with the SPLC, said in the release. "By lifting this ban, the district has taken a step away from perpetuating harmful gender stereotypes that to be acceptable, males must look and act a specific way. Federal law protects students' right to be free from unwarranted sex discrimination, including in dress codes."
The SPLC sent a letter to the board in April on behalf of Hueytown High School student Hunter Mahaffey, who had been required to remove his earrings because of a school system policy that only females were allowed to wear ear jewelry.
"I'm really happy to get my ears pierced again and keep them pierced this time," Mahaffey said in the statement released today by the SPLC. "I felt discriminated against when the school made me remove my earrings just because I'm a guy. It's a relief that the school board made the right decision by lifting the ban. Now students have more freedom and equality."