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Letter Sent to City School District of Albany Concerning Dress Code Enforcement

The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) and the ACLU Women’s Rights Project wrote this letter to express serious concerns regarding the recent suspensions of thirteen Albany High School athletes on the girls’ track and field team for practicing in sports bras during practice and protesting the City School District of Albany’s (“the District”) dress code.

Based on our investigation of recent reports by students and parents, it appears that District officials have discriminatorily enforced the dress code against girl athletes—and particularly against Black girls and other girls of color—in a manner that reinforces invidious race and sex stereotypes potentially in violation of the Fourteenth and First Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, and corresponding state and local constitutional and statutory protections. Additionally, the District’s athletic suspensions of the student athletes for wearing sports bras and speaking out against its dress code may run afoul of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and corresponding protections in the New York State Constitution.

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