Schools often have a dress code that requires school uniforms or that limits clothing styles—such as policies of no tank tops, shorts, low-cut tops, pants worn below the waistline, or suggestive, provocative, or controversial messages. Some schools extend these dress code policies to hairstyles, headwraps, hair color, and facial hair.
These policies are sometimes challenged by students on free speech grounds (under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution) and on discrimination grounds. Schools are required to meet a high burden to justify restricting their students’ right to freedom of speech.
Each school policy and claim of a violation of law must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis but schools are generally allowed to restrict clothing, speech, and hairstyle choices only if they would likely disrupt the educational environment of the school and interfere with school activities—including by causing tension and discord among the students or teachers.