School Board upholds outdated policy; stirs up freedom of expression concerns

Hunter Sanders, contributing reporter

Year after year, appeals by students and staff of the Joliet Township High School District have been made to the school board to remove the districts longstanding ban on ear piercings for males. But recently, an Illinois School Law Survey shows that the Supreme Court has ruled that tattoos and body piercings are protected under the first amendment, and can only be banned for medical or health reasons. Every surrounding district, such as Plainfield, Bolingbrook and Romeoville has either always had or now allows male students to wear piercings in their ears, however, the Joliet Board still fights the opposition.

School administrators tried to appeal to the school board at a recent school board meeting to remove the ban; despite their attempts the board did not budge.

Board Secretary Earl Peterson says that the use of “disc earrings, sometimes known as plugs or gauges” to stretch piercings can be considered a medical reason not to allow ear piercings on males. However, a statement on what prevents female students from increasing the size of their ear piercings has not be stated, and neither has a statement about ordinary ear piercings on males, although the ban has no end in sight.

Peterson states that “there’s an aesthetic reason for the ban. Earrings on boys are really unsightly.” There has been a large amount of controversy on the topic lately, and there probably will continue to be as more students, faculty, parents and outside sources respond to the continuing ban, and it certainly is an interesting issue to follow that effects many students here in the Joliet Township School District.

For more articles written on this topic, visit the views section of our website and read the letter to the editor titled: “Censoring Freedom of Expression” by Hunter Sanders.