Lawyer for Independent Media | Sue Basko
School dress codes and school uniforms are decided by school districts or by individual schools. The uniforms or codes would be subject to state law and to the U.S. Constitution. To learn about a specific dress code, you would need to read that particular dress code. A dress code will be in writing and should be available in paper form or on a website for your school or school district. When you read the dress code you are concerned about, you will see if it does in fact disallow bandannas for boys, but allow them for girls. My guess, without seeing the code in question, is that bandannas are not allowed for boys or girls, but that some form of hair accessories are allowed for girls. With every dress code, there is a lot of interpretation of the rules that will be left to the discretion of the teacher or principal or whoever is enforcing the dress code. If the teacher saw a girl with her hair held back by a bandanna that was obviously not part of a gang symbol, the teacher might let it pass. Another teacher might send her to the office or tell her not to wear it again. Why would bandannas not be allowed for boys? It might be the association with gangs. It might also be that almost all schools nationwide do not allow any head wear indoors, unless it is required by the student's religion. The rule about boys and men not wearing hats indoors goes back a long time in the U.S. and is considered a basic rule of good manners and being polite. Head wear such as bandannas and ball caps are often associated with gangs, and so are likely to be disallowed indoors or outdoors in or near a school. Many public schools have found it too difficult to interpret dress codes and have opted for simple school uniforms. Most of these school uniforms consist of a polo shirt in a specific color worn with some sort of bottom in a different color. For example, a typical school uniform is a navy blue polo shirt with khaki bottoms, such as pants, shorts, or a skirt. School uniforms will almost never allow any head wear, other than whatever might be required by a religion. So, a Muslim girl may wear a hijab and a Jewish boy may wear a yarmulke. But, unless you are going to start the Church of the Easy Rider or the Church of the Dude, you are not going to have the right to wear a bandanna to school.
Answer Applies to: California