HOBBS, N.M. (KRQE) – A policy that’s been around for more than 30 years in one New Mexico school district is stirring up new controversy. All male students in the Hobbs School District must have clean, shaven faces. It’s a rule already facing backlash heading into the first day of school.

“A couple of my male friends in school got sent into the restrooms with one of the little cheap dollar store razors to go shave,” Chey Ann Rusk said.

Rusk, a former Hobbs High School student, remembers the boys in class always having well-groomed faces. “There was even an occasion where they would just pull them out of class to shave too,” she added.

That’s because of the longstanding policy at Hobbs Muncicple Schools that says male students in middle and high school have to be clean-shaven. Superintendent, Gene Strickland, says this is in place to prepare students for life after high school, but also for safety reasons. They say it’s easier for security to identify a non-student with facial hair quicker.

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But Rusk didn’t like the policy years ago and now that she has a son, she’s concerned for him in the future.

“For my two-year-old, when he’s older, if they were to have that rule still, I would be very livid,” Rusk said. “This is 2022, for someone to be making rules over how someone should look based off of someone else’s guidelines, is not okay.”

But others agree with the policy like Robert Cantu, who graduated from Hobbs last year, and says this policy grew on him. He says it wasn’t a big deal to shave. If it improved safety, he was on board.

“I would say definitely it did make me feel more secure when I understood the reasonings that stipulations and policies were put into place that Hobbs schools had,” Cantu said.

Rebecca Hicks, a mother of three, says it’s routine now to have her oldest son shave before school. She remembers the policy in 2004 and believes it’s shaped people into who they are today.

“The kids I went to school with, they’re still clean-shaven, you know, they have good jobs. It keeps you well-groomed,” Hicks said.

But for Rusk, she hopes for her son’s sake, compromises to the rule will eventually be made. “For me personally, at least make the compromise, they at least have to have it a certain length at least. Don’t have full-grown beards of course but at least keep them trimmed, keep them clean.”

The Hobbs School District says they’re always open to reviewing the policy to better reflect and create the best environment to learn. Staff does not fall under this policy.