Last January, an Idaho Caldwell School District high school came under fire for prohibiting Latina student Brenda Hernandez from using her “Brown Pride” hoodie.

At the time, Hernandez said school officials told her people could find the hoodie “offensive” and “racist.” Officials stated that the hoodie violated policies for being “gang-affiliated.”

This gave Hernandez the idea to start a protest against the policy, explaining to KTVB 7, “That means my whole background. My family’s background, my ancestors’ background, and it will always be who I am. It’s something I can’t hide.”

Well, a complaint just filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Idaho calls out another school district in the state for similar behavior.

In the complaint, the organization asserts that Idaho’s Nampa School District has a “discriminatory” dress code against Latino students. In turn, the schools may “disproportionately” discipline Latinos, affecting their school careers.

The ACLU says the Idaho school district banned items like Catholic rosaries

As per the ACLU complaint filed with the Department of Justice on August 23, the Nampa School District’s dress code and disciplinary policies “target” its Latino student population. These “vague” and “undefined” codes pinpoint Latinos for their clothing or items related to their culture. This includes prohibiting Catholic rosaries or even wearing specific colors that they view as gang-affiliated.

Although 40% of the district’s students are Latino, schools may “disproportionately” discipline them on account of these codes. ACLU of Idaho legal fellow Erica Rodarte explained, “The policies provide sweeping discretion to discipline students for dress and expression.”

“These policies maintain a culture in the district that has targeted and disproportionately disciplined multiple generations of students,” she added. “They deserve a seat in a classroom where they will not fear being mislabeled, pushed out, or punished for who they are.”

In short, targeting Latino students for their clothing or other items may lead to more violations. Disciplinary action can change their entire futures.

As Sarah Hinger, senior staff attorney in the Racial Justice Program at the ACLU, added, “Minor dress code violations can build up to expulsions that push out of schools Latine and other students of color who are more likely to be disciplined.”

Adding, “We urge the Nampa School District to stop implementing gang dress codes, which have led to over policing and targeting.”

The ACLU investigated two school districts that allegedly “target” Latinos

The ACLU investigated both Idaho’s Nampa and Caldwell School Districts, finding “widespread” policies that “target and discriminate” against Latinos.

The report, titled “Proud To Be Brown: Punishing Latine Culture In Idaho Schools” by Erica Rodarte, is eye-opening. It explains that the state’s over-policing of “gang” dress codes “targets” Latino students and harms them. Moreover, it states the policies are “vague,” giving staff the freedom to forbid items they view as “gang-related.”

A view of the attire the Nampa and Caldwell police departments view as “gang-affiliated” is shocking. According to the ACLU, this includes bandanas, flannel shirts, Los Angeles Dodgers baseball caps, Nike Cortez shoes, Dickies shorts, and any clothing related to the Dallas Cowboys, San Francisco 49ers, and L.A. Lakers.

The list also includes clothing with Marilyn Monroe, as well as items emblazoned with La Huelga bird, or the symbol of the United Farm Workers.

According to the report, police play a role in enforcing these policies. Latino parents say school police have “targeted” or “harassed” their children, and that they have experienced searches and interrogations.

Also, schools prohibiting students from wearing Catholic rosaries affect those practicing the religion. Equally, a community member told the ACLU, “Latino students are the ones traditionally wearing rosaries because they are more likely to practice Catholicism.”

“To many Latino students, this was part of their identity,” they added. “On the other hand, white students are never told to remove their Christian accessories.”

Meanwhile, the districts’ “color contract” forbids some students from wearing specific “gang” colors chosen on a “case by case basis.”

One Nampa School District mother stated that her son’s middle school didn’t allow him to wear the color red.

“[The school administrator] told me that my son cannot wear that color to school and ‘we don’t allow certain kids to wear blue or red,'” she recalled. “I asked him, what do you mean by ‘certain kids?'”

“I told him he was profiling my son, whether he called it that or not,” she said.