A high school student in Mont Belvieu, Texas, is facing removal from his school and being sent to a disciplinary alternative education program due to his hairstyle. Darryl George, an 18-year-old junior at Barbers Hill High School, has been suspended since August 31 for “failure to comply” with campus and classroom regulations. The school’s principal, Lance Murphy, stated in a letter provided to The Associated Press by the family that George repeatedly violated the district’s standards of student conduct.
The controversy stems from the school district’s dress code policy, which prohibits male students from having hair extending below certain points. According to the student handbook, male students are not allowed to have hair below their eyebrows, ear lobes, or the top of a T-shirt collar. It must also be clean, well-groomed, and not an unnatural color or variation. While the school does not require uniforms, it strictly enforces the dress code.
George’s family, along with their attorney, argue that his hairstyle does not violate the dress code and believe that his suspension and subsequent disciplinary action are unjust. They filed a formal complaint with the Texas Education Agency and a federal civil rights lawsuit against the state’s governor and attorney general, alleging that they failed to enforce a new law banning discrimination based on hairstyles.
The family’s lawsuit references the state’s CROWN Act, which took effect on September 1. The law aims to prevent race-based hair discrimination and prohibits employers and schools from penalizing individuals based on their hair texture or protective hairstyles like Afros, braids, dreadlocks, twists, or Bantu knots. Although a federal version of the CROWN Act passed in the U.S. House last year, it was not successful in the Senate.
The school district has also taken legal action by filing a lawsuit in state district court seeking clarification on whether their dress code restrictions on male students’ hair length violate the CROWN Act.
This incident is not the first time Barbers Hill High School has faced controversy over its dress code policy regarding student hairstyles. Two other Black male students, De’Andre Arnold and Kaden Bradford, were also told to cut their dreadlocks in 2020. Their families sued the district, and a federal judge later ruled the hair policy discriminatory. Their case played a significant role in the passing of Texas’ CROWN Act.
The situation surrounding Darryl George’s suspension has sparked a larger conversation about dress codes, hair discrimination, and the rights of students to express their cultural identities without facing disciplinary action. It remains to be seen how this case will develop and whether it will lead to further changes in school policies regarding hairstyling and discrimination.
1. What is the CROWN Act?
The CROWN Act, short for “Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair,” is a law intended to prohibit race-based hair discrimination. It prevents employers and schools from penalizing individuals due to their hair texture or protective hairstyles commonly worn by people of African descent, such as Afros, braids, dreadlocks, twists, or Bantu knots.
2. Is there a federal version of the CROWN Act?
While a federal version of the CROWN Act passed in the U.S. House of Representatives last year, it did not succeed in the Senate.
3. Has Barbers Hill High School faced similar controversies before?
Yes, Barbers Hill High School previously faced controversy when two other Black male students, De’Andre Arnold and Kaden Bradford, were asked to cut their dreadlocks in 2020. Their families sued the district, and a federal judge ruled the hair policy discriminatory. Their case influenced the passage of the CROWN Act in Texas.