According to current news reports, a staff member of the Mystic Valley Regional Charter School in Malden recently cited an eighth-grader for wearing a hijab, which was deemed a “uniform infraction.”

Deborah Silva, Executive Director of Massachusetts Appleseed Center for Law and Justice, released the following statement:

“Policies like this harm students – there’s simply no other way to put it. Students cannot be expected to succeed if parts of their identity are judged and punished every time they enter the classroom, and the damage this has on students’ mental health, confidence, and emotional well-being can be severe. Dress codes are rarely neutral policies, perpetuating racist, misogynistic, and homophobic norms. Their enforcement feels especially inappropriate in schools where students are learning how to express themselves and discovering who they want to be.”

“Just a few years ago, the school’s harsh discipline of the Cook sisters for wearing their hair in braids with extensions motivated lawmakers to pass legislation banning hairstyle discrimination. To see yet another student endure this kind of over-policing just weeks after the CROWN Act was signed into law shows that Massachusetts still has a long way to go towards making sure our classrooms are welcoming and inclusive spaces for all.”

Massachusetts Appleseed Center for Law and Justice published its latest community-led report, “I Just Want to Learn”: Girls of Color and the School-to-Prison Pipeline in Massachusetts, in July 2022. The report explores stories from girls of color about the impact of exclusionary discipline on their lives and touches on the role dress codes play in fueling racial and gender-based disparities.


Massachusetts Appleseed Center for Law and Justice is a nonprofit driven by a mission to promote equal rights and opportunities for Massachusetts residents by developing and advocating for systemic solutions to social justice issues. Through policy research, community collaboration, and statewide advocacy, the organization seeks systems-level change so all Massachusetts families and youth can exercise their legal rights, build pathways out of poverty and crisis, and thrive.


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