Last Updated on July 28, 2022 by Michelle Ball
By Michelle Ball, Sacramento California Expulsion, Special Education, sports/CIF, College, Education and School Attorney/Lawyer for Students since 1995
With the raging hot sun in California, sun exposure is a serious concern for many parents. Consequences from sunburns can be painful and potentially dangerous. Can public schools deny students the ability to carry sunscreen or other sun-protection gear on campus? Generally, no.
State Law Permits Sun Protection in Schools
The need for students to be protected in schools from sun exposure is so important that the California legislature took the time to pass a law which gives students the legal right to carry sunscreen and to wear sun-protective clothing.
Per California Education Code section 35183.5:
(a) (1) Each schoolsite shall allow for outdoor use during the schoolday, articles of sun-protective clothing, including, but not limited to, hats.
(2) Each schoolsite may set a policy related to the type of sun-protective clothing, including, but not limited to, hats, that pupils will be allowed to use outdoors pursuant to paragraph (1). Specific clothing and hats determined by the school district or schoolsite to be gang-related or inappropriate apparel may be prohibited by the dress code policy.
(b) (1) Each schoolsite shall allow pupils the use of sunscreen during the schoolday without a physician’s note or prescription.
(2) Each schoolsite may set a policy related to the use of sunscreen by pupils during the schoolday.
(3) For purposes of this subdivision, sunscreen is not an over-the-counter medication.
(4) Nothing in this subdivision requires school personnel to assist pupils in applying sunscreen.
Gang-Related or Inappropriate Sun Apparel May Be Restricted
Limitations may be applied by schools to sun-blocking apparel which may be “gang-related” or “inappropriate.” However, a student cannot be stopped from wearing a hat to block the sun which does not breach other school policies.
Students also cannot be forced to leave their sunscreen in the office or at home. Needless to say, no adult or other school personnel should be involved in the application or administration of sunscreen to a student.
So, during long hot days or otherwise when the sun is blazing, if a school states that a student may only leave their sunscreen in the office, can’t carry it, or that the teacher needs to give it out or apply the sunscreen, don’t buy it. Instead, cite the above law to uphold the student’s sun-protection rights!
Student rights lawyer Michelle Ball represents students with school problems across California, in Sacramento, San Jose, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Fresno, Stockton, Irvine, Hollywood, and many other towns.