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Should Boys Be Allowed to Wear Earrings, or Is It 'Really Unsightly?'

While most school districts now allow boys to don ear jewelry, the Joliet Township High School Board recently upheld its ban on them.

The courts say it’s OK for boys to wear earrings to school. 

The cops say earrings don’t have anything to do with gangs. 

And if you think wearing an earring is a silent way of signaling your sexual preferences, you're showing your age.

Plainfield, Bolingbrook and Romeoville high schools have given the green light to guys who want to sport a stud or hoop in the earlobe. But the Joliet Township High School Board is not convinced and recently voted to retain its ban on male ear jewelry.

A quick Google search shows guys have been piercing their ears since just about the beginning of time. Pirates popularized the practice in Western culture. An earring made of precious metal was a wearable burial insurance policy that could pay for a funeral if a sailor was lost at sea and his body later washed to shore. 

Disclaimer: The next paragraph may be TMI. If you are easily offended, stick your fingers in your ears and go “la, la, la, la, la, la, la,” as you skip over it.

Those who remember that male earrings once sent sexual messages are not wrong. At one time, a guy who pierced his left earlobe did so to show he was gay and sexually dominant; if he pierced the right, it meant he was gay and sexually submissive. Later, piercing the right ear signaled you were gay and the left meant you were straight. 

Today, none of that applies. An earring is just an earring.

The Joliet high school board's decision to uphold its longstanding ban might be surprising given that it flies in the face of a recent Illinois School Law Survey that shows that courts have ruled tattoos and body piercings are protected by the First Amendment and can only be banned if there's medical or health reason to do so.

Earl Peterson, the board's secretary, says he's found one. Boys are using disc earrings, sometimes known as plugs or guages, to stretch the piercing hole to the size of a dime or larger, he said. Girls do this, too, but there seems to be no outcry to make the ban apply to both sexes.

Beyond that, though, Peterson says there's an aesthetic reason for the ban. Earrings on boys are “really unsightly," he says.

So, what’s your stand on your sons sporting earrings? Should there be different standards for boys and girls? Do you think the practice of wearing earrings to connote sexual or gang affiliations still exists? Do you think male earrings should be protected as a free speech issue?

Zach May 04, 2011 at 12:42 PM
Do they regulate neck tattoos and rat tails and faux-hawks and other unsightly fashion choices? Do they tell girls they have to wear makeup? Is there any doubt at all that the ban is directly related to the antiquated notion that earrings are for gay men? Ugh, Joliet.
Kelly Sheehan May 04, 2011 at 12:59 PM
The girls look just as bad with excessive piercings. If parents were parenting, this wouldn't be an issue.
Kim Cassidy May 04, 2011 at 01:37 PM
I have a 17 year old son and a 15 year old son who both have their ears pierced with gauges. This is their way to express themselves, just as the girls do. If they ban it for the boys, it needs to be banned for the girls as well. I would rather have my children express themselves this way vs. them being out and getting into trouble.
Lori Janiec May 04, 2011 at 01:57 PM
I went to high school in an age of PUNKS, BURN OUTS, PREPS & JOCKS. We all had our own fashion expression and as long as we were "dressed" we were accepted by the school. Kelly did have a good point tho...if parents would parent, then there wouldn't be an issue. But schools seem to have been forced to "up" their dress codes to prevent...well, really, prevent what? Other than too short skirts/shorts or waistbands below the danger of falling down zone, what are they saying by enforcing some of these "rules"?

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