Black Student Suspended Over Locs; School Says It’s the Dress Code, Not Racial Discrimination
A Black student at Barbers Hill High School in Mont Belvieu, Texas, has been suspended twice for wearing locs because school officials said he violated the district’s dress code.
Darryl George, 17, has served an in-school suspension since August 31 because his hair falls below his eyebrows and earlobes, the Associated Press reports.
The high school junior wears his dreadlocks pinned up to adhere to the school district’s dress code, which states that male students’ hair must not extend “below the top of a t-shirt collar or be gathered or worn in a style that would allow the hair to extend below the top of a t-shirt collar, below the eyebrows, or below the ear lobes when let down.”
Despite the student wearing his locs up, both the principal and vice principal, of Barbers Hill stood by the suspension.
Greg Poole, who is white and has been district superintendent since 2006, maintains that the hair policy is rooted not in racism but in a sense of collective responsibility and is a lesson on sacrifice. “When you are asked to conform … and give up something for the betterment of the whole, there is a psychological benefit,” Poole said. “We need more teaching [of] sacrifice.”
Darresha George, Darryl’s mother, vehemently disagreed with the district’s assertion that her son’s hair negatively imposes upon the learning of his fellow students.
“My son is well groomed, and his hair is not distracting from anyone’s education,” she said. “This has everything to do with the administration being prejudiced toward Black hairstyles, toward Black culture.”
For George and the men in his family, their hair honors those who came before them and connects them to the God they serve, said Darresha George. “Our hair is where our strength is. That’s our roots. He has his ancestors locked into his hair, and he knows that.”
School officials stand by the district’s dress code and informed her that they plan to put her son into an alternative school if his “violations” continue, according to the AP.
Barbers Hill High School is one of two in the district and has a 35 percent minority enrollment. It made headlines in 2020 when school administrators barred then-senior DeAndre Arnold from returning to school and attending his graduation ceremony unless he agreed to cut his dreadlocks. Arnold left Barbers Hill and graduated from nearby Sterling High School.
The state’s CROWN Act, intended to prohibit race-based hair discrimination and bar employers and schools from penalizing people because of their hair texture or protective hairstyles, was enacted on September 1, the AP reported. The move made Texas one of 24 states to have set the law into action.
George served his suspension on September 15.
Lawmakers passed a federal version of the CROWN Act in the House of Representatives last year. Still, they failed to do so in the Senate, leaving the decision up to individual state legislature.