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Published on May 24, 2024
Texas High School Student Sues for Right to Wear Locs, Citing Racial DiscriminationSource: Wikipedia/user:P199, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A Black Texas high school student has found himself in the crosshairs of a federal legal battle over the right to maintain his hairstyle, igniting discussions on racial and gender discrimination. Eighteen-year-old Darryl George has been embroiled in a dispute with Barbers Hill School District since last August over his locs.

Together with his mother, Darresha George, Darryl filed a federal civil rights lawsuit claiming that the school's policy and the punishment thereof were discriminatory. KHOU reported that the Georges argue the case is one of racial and gender discrimination, citing the school's lack of adherence to the CROWN Act — a state law designed to prevent race-based hair discrimination.“I’m just happy that we’re here. We finally made it here. This is another stepping stone we have to cross. It’s been a long road and we will just be in this fight,” Darresha George told KHOU after a recent court hearing.

In response to the allegations, the Barbers Hill district has maintained its stance that the policy is race-neutral and does not exhibit any discrimination. According to NBC News, the district's attorney, Jonathan Brush, argued that just because the regulations have different stipulations for boys and girls does not equate to any illegal discrimination. The district's hair policy has come under the microscope before, facing legal challenge in 2020, though that matter remains unresolved.

During the Thursday court hearing, George's attorney, Allie Booker, emphasized to U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Brown that the school's policy overlooks race-based protections stipulated by the CROWN Act. While the Barbers Hill district offers religious exemptions for hair length, it stops short of embracing the same rationale when the subject is cultural identity. “It’s not about the length of hair, it’s about acceptance for all in the same manner,” Booker said after the hearing, a sentiment that echoes a broader conversation about equity and inclusivity within school environments.

This case is particularly noteworthy as it intersects with the CROWN Act and First Amendment rights, with both sides waiting for Judge Brown's decision on the fate of the lawsuit. In the interim, Darryl George faces personal setbacks, as KHOU mentioned his summer job prospects may be hindered by the ongoing suit. "He’s just afraid that some of the people that don’t agree with this case will hold it against him as they have been," Booker conveyed the student's concerns. As summer stretch ahead, George and his legal team await a ruling that may redefine the intersection of personal expression and institutional policy in educational settings.