Darryl George, a Black high school student in Mont Belvieu, Texas, found himself facing a second in-school suspension over his hairstyle, according to his mother, Darresha George. A junior at Barbers Hill High School, George was initially suspended the same week Texas passed a law outlawing racial discrimination based on hairstyles.
School officials claimed that his twisted dreadlocks, tied on top of his head, violated the district's dress code by falling below his eyebrows and ear lobes. The incident has brought attention to the state's newly enacted CROWN Act, aimed at prohibiting race-based hair discrimination.
The CROWN Act prevents employers and schools from penalizing individuals for their hair texture or protective hairstyles, including braids, Afros, dreadlocks, twists, and Bantu knots. Texas is one of 24 states with a version of the CROWN Act, and a federal version of the act passed in the House of Representatives but faced challenges in the Senate.
For George's family, dreadlocks hold cultural and religious significance, representing a connection to their heritage and ancestors. Historically, hairstyles have played a crucial role in African societies, from tribal identification to messages of safety and freedom for enslaved people.
The Barbers Hill Independent School District's dress code prohibits male students from having hair extending below certain lengths. Attorney Allie Booker, who represents the family, said the school's argument doesn't hold up because length is considered part of a hairstyle, which is protected under the law.
"We are going to continue to fight, because you can't tell someone that hairstyles are protected and then be restrictive. If style is protected, then style is protected," she said.
George's mother is determined to fight against what she perceives as prejudice against Black hairstyles and culture, while her son's academic and extracurricular activities suffer due to the ongoing suspension.