The same week Texas outlawed racial discrimination based on hairstyles, a Black high school student was suspended because school officials said his dreadlocks violated the district dress code.
“I just want to say that I want my son to get the education he needs and not be discriminated against because of his hair,” Dareesha George told FOX 26 Houston.
Her son, Darryl George, is a 17-year-old junior at Barbers Hill High School in Mont Belvieu outside Houston. He received an in-school suspension after he was told his hair fell below his eyebrows and ear lobes, The Associated Press reported.
It is George’s first year at the high school, and his mom alleges things got off to a rocky start from day one.
“Because they know his hair is long, every day he comes to school he will be in ISS because they know when it’s let down it’s below his eyelids and ear lobes,” George said.
The incident recalls debates over hair discrimination in schools and the workplace and is already testing the state’s newly enacted CROWN Act, which took effect Sept. 1.
The law, an acronym for “Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair,” is intended to prohibit race-based hair discrimination and bars employers and schools from penalizing people because of hair texture or protective hairstyles including Afros, braids, dreadlocks, twists or Bantu knots. Texas is one of 24 states that has enacted a version of the CROWN Act.
A federal version of the CROWN Act passed in the House of Representatives last year, but was not successful in the Senate.
“The Barbers Hill ISD dress code is not in conflict with the CROWN Act,” a district statement to FOX 26 said.
George served the suspension last week. His mother said he plans to return to the Houston-area school Monday, wearing his dreadlocks in a ponytail, even if he is required to attend an alternative school as a result.
In George’s family, all the men have dreadlocks, going back generations. To them, the hairstyle has cultural and religious importance, his mother said.
“Our hair is where our strength is, that’s our roots,” Darresha George told the AP. “He has his ancestors locked into his hair, and he knows that.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.