Black Texas student suspended for hairstyle as his family argues the school violated the CROWN Act

Row of traditional metal school lockers
row of traditional metal school lockers

On Thursday (Sept. 7), Barbers Hill High School in Mont Belvieu, Texas, made the news again for suspending a student for their hairstyle. More than two years after De’Andre Arnold, a former Barbers Hill pupil, received a suspension because his hair failed to meet their dress code, staff punished 17-year-old Darryl George with an in-school suspension (ISS) because he allowed his hair to drop below his eyebrows instead of pinning it back.

The difference between then and now? The incident with Arnold prompted bipartisan legislators in Texas to pass the CROWN (Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair) Act to prevent a similar event from ever happening at Barbers Hill High School, or elsewhere, again. Only 23 other states possess this type of legislation. Strangely, Barbers Hill issued the ISS in the same month (September 2023) the law went into effect.

Darryl’s mother, Darresha George, and activists believe that the school’s staff violated the law because braids and locks fall under the category of race-oriented “protective hairstyles” designed to shield the hair against the elements. The CROWN Act bans discrimination based on styles and textures associated with race.

“I know he’s upset, and he feels terrible about it,” Darresha said. According to KHOU, their attorney, Allie Booker, explained in a statement that Darryl’s hair passed the school’s code. He noted, “As long as hair is not below the lobes, below the eyelids, hiding his eyes, on the nape of the neck, or at the collar, he’s fine. And it doesn’t matter if he twists his locks up.”

Rep. Ron Reynolds helped design the Texas CROWN Act. He also commented, “Absolutely zero excuse for this school district that knows the policy to do this all over again. It feels like déjà vu.”

Darresha and others want a federal-level intervention. If Barbers Hill continues to refuse to reverse the ISS, they want the district’s federal funding pulled until further notice.

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