When Dreads Become School Punishable Offence

A Texas judge ruled that a Houston-area school district legally punished Darryl George for wearing his hair in locs.

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When Dreads Become School Punishable Offence
Darryl George, an 18-year-old high school junior, stands outside a courthouse in Anahuac, Texas, on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2024. A judge ordered Wednesday that a trial be held next month to determine whether George can continue being punished by his district for refusing to change a hairstyle he and his family say is protected by a new state law. (AP Photo/Juan A. Lozano)

A Texas judge ruled that the punishment given to an 18-year-old Black student, Darryl George, by his school district for his hairstyle did not violate the new state law against race-based hair discrimination.

George has been out of his regular high school classes since August 31 because the Barbers Hill district claims that the length of his tied and twisted locs violates its dress code.

The school district argued that George’s long hair goes against its policy as it would fall below his shirt collar, eyebrows, or earlobes when let down. The judge sided with the school district, stating that the policy is not discriminatory because the CROWN Act, which prohibits race-based hair discrimination, does not provide exemptions for long hair.

Darryl George (AP)

George’s family has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against Governor Greg Abbott, Attorney General Ken Paxton, and the school district, alleging a failure to enforce the CROWN Act. The family plans to seek an injunction to stop George’s punishment and will appeal the judge’s decision.

“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,” said Barbers Hill Superintendent Greg Poole.

Democratic state Rep. Ron Reynolds, a co-author of the CROWN Act, testified in support of George, expressing disappointment in the ruling. Reynolds plans to file a bill for a new version of the CROWN Act specifically mentioning protections for hair length.

U.S. Rep Bonnie Watson Coleman, a Democrat, criticized the decision, calling it a “terrible interpretation of the CROWN Act” and highlighting the issue of institutional racism. The school district’s hair policy had faced challenges in the past, with a lawsuit filed in 2020 that is still pending.

George and his mother left the courthouse in tears, raising questions about the impact of hair-based discrimination on education.

George asked, “All because of my hair? I can’t get my education because of my hair?” Advocates are calling for federal intervention in this case.


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