A Texas high school suspended a black student for hair that could reach his shoulders if he let it down, just days after the state banned discrimination against black hairstyles.
Darryl George, 17, was kicked out of class and told his dreadlocks violated the dress code at Barbers Hill High School in Mont Belvieu.
His mother Darresha insists the style respects the school’s ban on hair that covers the eyebrows or earlobes because her son wears it tied up, and challenged the school to try to send him home.
“It has everything to do with the administration’s bias against black hairstyles and black culture,” she said.
“My son is well groomed and his hair does not distract from anyone’s education.”
Darryl George was banned from class and faces transferring to another school after staff at Barbers Hill High told him his hair was too long.
Barbers Hill Independent School District Superintendent Greg Poole denied the policy is racist
The case appears to be an early test for Texas’ new Crown Act, designed to prevent discrimination in school and work against regular black hairstyles.
Meaning “Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair,” the law took effect on September 1 as Texas became the 24th state to protect the right to wear afros, braids or dreadlocks.
The school, where only three percent of students are black, insists its rules apply to length, not style.
The school district says its dress code is intended to “teach cleanliness and hygiene, instill discipline, prevent disruptions, avoid safety hazards, and teach respect for authority.”
“When you’re asked to comply and give up something for the greater good, there’s a psychological benefit,” said district Superintendent Greg Poole.
“We need more teaching (on) sacrifice.”
It comes three years after the school sparked fury by barring another black student from graduating because of his hair.
Activists from Black Lives Matter Houston and the United Urban Alumni Association packed a school board meeting after DeAndre Arnold was suspended for his shoulder-length dreadlocks.
“There is no dress code policy prohibiting cornrows or any other method of wearing hair,” Poole said during the meeting.
“Our policy limits the duration. It’s been like this for 30 years.
“People want to call us racist, but we follow the rules, the law of the land.”
Deandre also insisted he was complying with the policy with his hair tied up and one activist said his suspension had less to do with the dress code and more to do with “policing black boys.”
“We’re here for Deandre, but it’s so much more than that,” his mother Sandy Arnold told CBS News at the time.
“It’s about any other Deandres that might come through Barbers Hill.”
Mount Pleasant Public School in Michigan was sued for $1 million in 2021 when a teacher cut the hair of a seven-year-old mixed-race girl without her family’s permission.
“She was so embarrassed because she had to go back to class like that,” her father Jimmy Hoffmeyer said.
“I’ve heard people say it’s just hair, but to her it’s not just hair. It was his image, it was his self-esteem.
Darryl’s mother, Darresha, said her son’s hair complied with the school’s code which requires hair to be above the eyebrows and above the earlobe.
In 2020, the school excluded 18-year-old Deandre Arnold from graduation because of his hair.
Activists turn their backs on speakers defending Texas high school’s long hair policy
Darresha George said her son has been growing his dreadlocks for almost 10 years and the family has never received any complaints from the school before.
“I even had a discussion about the Crown Act with the headteacher and deputy headteacher,” she told AP.
“They said the act didn’t cover the length of her hair.”
“Our hair is our strength, it is our roots.
“He has his ancestors locked in his hair, and he knows it.
“His grades are falling, which also means he is not able to play football or participate in extracurricular activities.
“He was on track to graduate early, and now he’s falling behind and will have to work twice as hard just to still be able to graduate.
“He will follow the dress code on Monday with his dreadlocks, which do not extend beyond his eyebrows or earlobes.”
The Texas Legislative Black Caucus warned the school that its policy violates the new law and demanded that the violations be removed from George’s educational record.
Mount Pleasant Public Schools in Grand Rapids was sued for $1 million in 2021 when Jurnee, a first-grader, came home after a school librarian cut her hair without her family’s permission .
But George faces being placed in an alternative school and his family is preparing for a legal battle.
Their attorney, Allie Booker, said the school’s argument doesn’t hold up because the length is considered part of a hairstyle, which is protected by law.
“We will continue to fight, because you cannot tell someone that hairstyles are protected and then be restrictive,” she added.
“If the style is protected, then the style is protected. »