A child who wants to have their tongue pierced, or their eyebrow, or their nose may be severely frustrated by a school with piercing rules. They may complain to parents, or make a stink about their rights, and the schools violation of those rights. The following is a look at whether or not schools should have piercing rules.
First, consider if a piercing can be a disruption? Body piercing certainly can be a disruption, which is one of the reasons why kids are often advised to remove piercings before applying for jobs, etc. In school, it can distract students from lectures, can cause a stir on campus, etc. It can certainly disrupt the normal flow of things in a school, which gives them ample reason to want to set a rule about what kind of piercings are allowed, and what are not.
Second, consider the health risks of piercing: Improperly cared for piercings can be a major health risk. Infections can come readily, and swelling, irritation, and more. Often kids with infected piercings will miss school, or be a safety risk for others. Because there are real health concerns associated with body piercing, especially in places other than the ears, it is a valid concern for schools, who do not want to deal with poor attendance, or the spreading of infection, germs, etc.
Third, are piercing rules unlawful? Many kids will argue that their rights are being violated when a school has piercing rules. However, it is important to understand which rights are being violated, and which are not, as well as what a court would likely rule on the issue. First, it is good to know that piercings are not covered by the first amendment. They are not protected speech. While piercings can be a message, and say something about you, the message they convey is not clear, and thus they do not fall under the category of protected speech. Thus, your first amendment rights are not violated by piercing rules. So what rights may be violated by piercing rules? If a school is not careful, they may be cited for gender discrimination through their piercing rules. If they specify that a girl can have, for example, earrings, but boys cannot, then there may be a case for gender discrimination. However, most courts will put the school’s need for discipline and safety above gender discrimination, and may not overturn the dress code, but may ask that it be amended.
The point is, that whether or not a school should have piercing rules is secondary to whether or not they can have them. They can, and the law is on their side. If you want to make a case for why you should be allowed a piercing, your best legal foot to stand on is that of religious or political reasons for piercing. Otherwise, you really have little case, as piercings can be disruptive and unsafe.