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Published on February 26, 2024
Protestors Demand Change in Texas After Black Student Suspended Over Dreadlocks Amid Legal BattleSource: Facebook/Keith Boykin

Tempers flared in Texas as activists mounted a protest against the suspension of a black high school student over his dreadlocks, demanding a policy overhaul. In Baytown, protestors gathered not outside Barbers Hill Independent School District Superintendent Greg Poole's residence as originally planned, but at a nearby apartment complex, after they were informed the streets were privately owned, according to Fox San Antonio. The suspended student, Darryl George, had faced in-school suspension for more than two weeks over his hairstyle.

A Texas judge has ruled that the school district's actions did not constitute discrimination. After hearing about three hours of testimony, Chambers County Judge Chap Cain III sided with Barbers Hill Independent School District. "Anger, sadness, disappointment" were the emotions that George expressed outside the courtroom, as reported by BBC. The school insists that its dress code, which prohibits hair from being "below the top of a T-shirt collar, below the eyebrows, or below the ear lobes when let down," applies to all students equally and does not violate the state's Crown Act — a law aimed at preventing discrimination based on hairstyles.

Darresha George, Darryl's mother, filed a federal civil rights lawsuit and a complaint with the Texas education agency, accusing the school of breaking the Crown Act. Yet, the school district has counterargued that the Crown Act does not specifically mention hair length among its protections. This legal battle comes in the shadow of a previous incident, where two other students, De'Andre Arnold and Kaden Bradford, faced similar sanctions over their dreadlocks in 2020, resulting in a federal judge declaring the district's hair policy discriminatory.

Mr. George, whose personal hair choice has sparked this complex legal and cultural battle, remains on suspension. He detailed to the Associated Press, "He has to sit on a stool for eight hours in a cubicle" during his in-school suspension. His mother echoed this sentiment, saying "That's very uncomfortable. Every day he'd come home, he'd say his back hurts because he has to sit on a stool."