Texas judge says Black teenager’s suspension over dreadlocks doesn’t violate CROWN Act

A judge in Texas said Thursday that a school’s suspension of a Black teenager because of his dreadlocks does not violate the CROWN Act, which forbids racial hair discrimination.

State District Judge Chap Cain sided with Barbers Hill High School and against 18-year-old Darryl George, who has been on in-school suspension for months because of the length of his hair.

George wears his dreadlocks on the top of his head, away from his face and neck, but the school adopted a rule that said a male’s student hair could not be below his eyebrows or ear lobes when let down.

In a statement to The Hill, the school said, “The Texas legal system has validated our position that the district’s dress code does not violate the CROWN Act and that the CROWN Act does not give students unlimited self-expression.”

“The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that affirmative action is a violation of the 14th Amendment and we believe the same reasoning will eventually be applied to the CROWN Act.”

Allie Booker, George’s attorney, had earlier said the case ties into a larger movement “regarding discrimination of minority groups as a whole.”

Booker said the school previously had a rule that hair could be longer, but it had to be tied up, which students complied with.

“What these individuals were doing was being able to tie up and sew up and put up their locs just like Darryl George is doing in an effort to comply with the dress and the grooming code,” Booker said. “Once [the principal] saw that a person could still have locs and be able to tie them up,” language was changed in the handbook so hair had to be a certain length when let down.

“Well, if somebody’s hair can’t come below the eyebrow, it’s not gonna be long enough for you to braid. It’s not going to be long enough for you to loc, especially coarse, Black hair,” she added.

Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass) called Thursday’s decision “anti-Black” in a statement posted to X, formerly known as Twitter.

“Black folks deserve to show up as our full selves without punishment or criminalization. Congress must pass & enforce the CROWN Act federally to ban race-based hair discrimination once & for all,” Pressley said.

Greg Poole, superintendent of the Barbers Hill school district, previously told The Hill, “Hair length of male students is only constitutionally protected for Native American students. Length of hair is not protected in the Texas CROWN nor in any of the CROWN Acts in the 24 states that have one.”

“The Texas CROWN Act protects hair texture and the wearing of braids, twists and locs. Those with agendas wish to make the CROWN Act a blanket allowance of student expression. Again, we look forward to this issue being legally resolved,” Poole added.

—Updated at 4:53 p.m.

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