A Black high school student in Texas was suspended after he was told his hair violated the district’s dress code.
According to The Associated Press, Darryl George received an in-school suspension at Barbers Hill High School in Mont Belvieu because his hair fell below his eyebrows and ear lobes.
His mother, Darresha George, said he wears his hair in thick, twisted locks tied on top of his head, and that he previously attended a school in Baytown, Texas where he had no problems wearing the same hairstyle.
When not tied up, his locks hang above his shoulders, but his mother said he has not worn it down since the beginning of school in mid-August. Barbers Hill Independent School District prohibits male students from having hair that extends below the eyebrows, ear lobes, or top of a t-shirt collar, according to the student handbook.
This incident tests the new state’s newly established CROWN Act which went into effect Sept. 1.The law’s acronym stands for “Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair,” and is intended to prohibit race-based hair discrimination and prevent employers and schools for punishing people due to hair texture and/or protective hairstyles such as braids, Afros, locks, twists, or Bantu knots.
Ending Hair-Based Discrimination With The CROWN Act
A federal version of the CROWN Act went through the House of Representatives last year but did not make it through the Senate. Texas is currently one of 24 states that have enacted versions of the CROWN Act.
All of the men in George’s family going back generations have worn locks, his mother said, as the hairstyle has cultural and religious importance.
“Our hair is where our strength is, that’s our roots,” Darresha George said. “He has his ancestors locked into his hair, and he knows that. I even had a discussion about the CROWN Act with the principal and vice principal. They said the act does not cover the length of his hair.”
This is not the first time the school has clashed with a Black male student due to his hair and the dress code. Barbers Hill officials told a student he would need to cut his dreadlocks in order to not only return to school but participate in graduation in 2020, which gained national attention, according to AP.
The 17-year-old served his suspension last week and plans to return to his school Monday. He will continue wearing his locks in a ponytail even if that results in him needing to attend an alternative school, according to his mother.
“My son is well-groomed, and his hair is not distracting from anyone’s education,” Darresha George said. “This has everything to do with the administration being prejudiced toward Black hairstyles, toward Black culture.”