Black teen in US loses court battle over hairstyle

By: Agence France Presse February 23,2024 - 01:11 PM

Black teen court decision stock photo

A Black teen who was punished at high school because of the way he wears his hair lost a court battle Thursday when a judge upheld the disciplinary action against him.

Darryl George, 18, wears his hair in rope-like strands called locs, which are pinned to his head.

Since last August he has been separated from his classmates and faced other punitive measures at Barbers Hill High School, outside Houston, on grounds his hair style violates a dress code.

READ: Florida teachers sue over law banning use of preferred pronouns

Hair of black teen out of compliance

The school says his hair is out of compliance because it is of a length that extends “below the top of a T-shirt collar, below the eyebrows, and/or below the earlobes when let down.”

His lawyers say the hairstyle is protected by a law called the Texas CROWN Act, which says a school district policy “may not discriminate against a hair texture or protective hairstyle commonly or historically associated with race.” It does not mention hair length.

George’s family filed a lawsuit and in a court hearing Thursday Judge Chap Cain said the Barbers Hill policy does not violate that law.

READ: Virginia teacher shot by 6-yr-old student sues school leaders for $40 million

Crown Act

“The CROWN Act does not render unlawful those portions of the Barbers Hill dress and grooming restrictions limiting male students’ hair length,” Cain said, according to news reports.

“It means a lot to me. It’s my roots, you know. It’s how I feel closer to my people, closer to my ancestors,” George said before the hearing.

“I started my dreads for a reason, and that’s just to feel closer to my people,” he added.

Barbers Hill High School denies discriminating against the youth.

His lawyer, Allie Booker, announced plans to appeal at a federal court.

Candice Matthews, a spokeswoman for the George family, said the boy left the courtroom in tears after the hearing.

“Darryl made this statement, and told me this straight up with tears in his eyes, ‘All because of my hair? I can’t get my education because of hair? I cannot be around other peers and enjoy my junior year, because of my hair?'” Matthews said.

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TAGS: black teen, hair

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