CORPUS CHRISTI – Earlier this month, the Gonzales family from Mathis was in court asking Judge Nelva Ramos to consider an injunction that would allow Cesar and Diego Gonzales to participate in Mathis ISD extracurricular activities.
For the past two years, the brothers have been barred from playing on their school’s football team or participating in academic clubs because of a religious promise they have kept since birth.
Cesar and Diego Gonzales leave a small part of their hair uncut and braided due to a religious promise known as a promesa they have kept since infancy.
After the hearing on Sept. 5, Judge Ramos said she needed more time to consider all the evidence. Then, just a few hours later, she granted an injunction to Diego but not his brother Cesar. The judge asked for the attorneys to file more paperwork and evidence if they wished.
On Sept. 11, Cesar was granted his injunction, allowing him to participate in sports and other UIL activities.
Court documents read, “For the reasons set out above, the Court GRANTS Plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction (D.E. 33) in favor of C.G. The Court ENJOINS MISD from excluding C.G.—based on his continued growth of a braid of hair running down his back and tucked in his shirt in violation of the MISD hair grooming policy—from any extra- curricular activities identified in the MISD Extra-Curricular Handbook, including:
• Any University Interscholastic League (UIL), School District, or campus-sponsored or related public performances, events, contests, demonstrations, displays, club activities, athletics, whether on- or off-campus;
• Any elected offices and honors (such as student council and homecoming king);
• All co-curricular activities, which are those held in conjunction with a credit-bearing class, but that may take place outside of school and outside of the school day (such as band and choir);
• All national organizations (such as National Honor Society or Future Farmers of America); and
• Any activity held in conjunction with another activity that is considered to be an extracurricular activity (such as a meeting, practice, or fundraiser).
In a statement from Becket, the religious freedom law firm helping the Gonzales family, it read that the school district has now appealed to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals on the ruling.
For now, it looks as if the court battle is far from over.