Texas Grooming Codes Force Boys to Cut Hair

In Advocate by El Rubio16 Comments

Something About Long Hair In Texas

We’ve been publishing stories about grooming codes in Texas schools for years, from Habib, Jabez and Cole, to DeAndre, Kieran, Newt and many others. While the issue has raised legal questions and prompted warnings—including a letter from the ACLU to hundreds of Texas school districts—it’s unclear how many have re-examined their dress codes.

Luke is the most recent that’s come to our knowledge, but for every story we hear there are other boys and young men who are simply forced to cut their hair.

Luke with long hair and blue collar shirt, dealing with discriminatory grooming codes in texas schools

Growing To Donate

Luke McCorkle was seven years old when his sister was sick and hospitalized for a week. Visiting her, Luke noticed child patients with no hair. Asking why, his mom explained the kids were sick, and their treatment made their hair fall out.

He asked, “Momma, I have lots of hair, can they have mine?”

From that moment Luke continued growing until his first hair donation in 2020. He realized he couldn’t help all the kids without hair, but decided he wanted to help as many as he could by growing, donating and repeating.

Luke with his family who are dealing with discriminatory grooming codes in texas schools
  • Luke cutting his hair due to grooming codes in texas schools
  • Luke cutting his hair due to grooming codes in texas schools
  • Luke cutting his hair due to grooming codes in texas schools
  • Luke cutting his hair due to grooming codes in texas schools
  • Luke cutting his hair due to grooming codes in texas schools
    His family even found out about The Great Cut, and Luke set his sights on his next hair donation in 2024.

    Attempts To Meet The Grooming Code

    Going into the 2022 school year, then 12 years old in sixth grade, Luke’s hair had started to approach the limits of the school grooming code at the time:

    WISD Student Handbook

    2. No facial hair, earrings, or ponytails worn by boys. Boys' hair cannot cover the eyebrows, cannot reach the top of their shirt collar in the back and cannot cover more than 1/2 of the ear. Eyebrows may not have lines or notches cut in them. Haircuts must be symmetrical, hair may not be long on one side and short on the other. Hair color must be a color that would occur naturally. No green, purple, pink, etc.
    In earnest effort to stay within the code, his mom dutifully braided Luke’s hair each morning, over which he wore a headband. This was every day both for class and athletics.
    Photos of Luke wearing a headwrap
    While he may have gotten some looks or comments from teachers, the tactic seemed to be working.

    Attempts At Diplomacy

    Luke posing with his mom
    Luke with a big smile

    Returning from winter break in January 2023 is when the real trouble began. Luke was warned that the braids and headbands would no longer be tolerated, and that his hair length was violating the school grooming code.

    Luke wrote a letter explaining his desire to help children and their families, and to set an example of service to others.

    A letter that Luke wrote

    In another effort, Luke’s family wrote and proposed an exception to the grooming policy which would allow boys, under strict and specific conditions, to grow long hair with the express purpose of donating to charity.

    While some members of the school administration were understanding, trying to be solution-oriented and accommodating, Luke’s family often heard, “it’s out of our hands,” “it’s hard to make policy changes during the school year,” and, “we’ll consider rule changes over the summer, you can participate.”

    Detention, In-School Suspension, Threatened Expulsion

    Despite repeated attempts and various approaches, Luke was sent to detention every day, during lunch and break periods and for 30 minutes after school. After two weeks of detention, he was placed into in-school-suspension (ISS).

    Finally in February, the school threatened to have Luke removed from class via law enforcement and escorted by police officers to an alternate education facility—at which point he could be denied readmittance to his school.

    Under the apparent threat of expulsion, Luke gave in and cut his hair.

    Media coverage of Luka

    Rule Changes Without Input

    The school board went ahead with changes to the school grooming code over the summer, but without participation from the McCorkle family.
    9. Boys hair cannot cover the eyebrows, reach the top of shirt collar, or cover more than half of the ear in its natural state. No ponytails, braids, headbands, man buns etc. can be worn by boys. Natural occurring hair color; no blue, pink, green, etc. Hairstyles may not be disruptive to the learning environment.
    At face value it would appear the rule was changed to specifically target Luke.

    The Fallout

    Going into seventh grade in the 2023 school year, Luke is faced with the same choice: cut his hair, or pursue his goal of growing to donate and face the consequences.

    Throughout their family’s experience, Luke’s parents have supported Luke in his decision. Having seemingly exhausted all courses, they are now pursuing legal action.

    To support the cost of legal fees, and to explain everything they’ve done in support of Luke, the McCorkle family has set up a GoFundMe. We urge you to visit, better understand the situation directly from his parents, and support Luke’s fight to grow his hair—even if you can only donate $1.

    Luke’s GoFundMe

    Luka's gofundme page
    Donate Now

    Antiquated Grooming Codes In Texas Schools

    Luke’s story is just one of many in which grooming codes in Texas schools are forcing boys and young men to cut their hair. Read further case studies of hair discrimination in schools, or view best practices for overcoming discriminatory dress codes.

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