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Texas schools rethink gender-based dress code policies after discrimination claims raise new legal issues

Recent high-profile incidents and lawsuits have led some districts to make their dress code policies more gender- and race-neutral.

From left: Hope Cozart, Maddox Cozart, Dante Cozart and Mia Cozart pose for a portrait in Temple on Dec. 8, 2021. Maddox's s…
A sign outside of Raymond Mays Middle School in Troy on Dec. 8, 2021.

Creating the rules 

Maddox Cozart, 12, plays at a park in Temple on Dec. 8, 2021. Maddox was placed in in-school suspension over his hairstyle e…
Maddox Cozart, 12, plays at a park in Temple on Dec. 8, 2021. Maddox was placed in in-school suspension over his hairstyle e…
Maddox Cozart, 12, plays at a park in Temple on Dec. 8, 2021. Maddox was placed in in-school suspension over his hairstyle e…

Dress codes under a new light 

Impact on students of color 

“I think recently, [the] dress code was looked at as almost like a list of Ten Commandments, of ‘thou shalt not do this or that,’ and we have deployed more of a New Testament version of ‘let’s look at the intentions of a person.’”

— Mexia ISD Superintendent Ryder Appleton
Maddox Cozart, 12, poses for a portrait in Temple on Dec. 8, 2021. Maddox was placed in in-school suspension over his hairst…

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