'It feels like deja vu': Student suspended due to his hairstyle amid TX law banning discrimination

The CROWN Act, which stands for stands for 'Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair,' went into effect Sept. 1.

Pooja Lodhia Image
Friday, September 8, 2023
High school student says he's being suspended due to his hairstyle
Barbers Hill High School in Mont Belvieu, Texas, is accused of violating the CROWN Act, a law banning hair discrimination associated with race.

MONT BELVIEU, Texas (KTRK) -- Seventeen-year-old Darryl is a junior at Barbers Hill High School, but according to his mom, he's spent most of the year so far on in-school suspension because of his hair.

"I know he's upset, and he feels terrible about it," Darresha George said.

The CROWN Act went into effect six days ago, on Sept. 1.

Texas is now one of 24 states in the country that bans discrimination based on hair texture or hairstyles associated with race.

A similar situation at Barbers Hill in 2020 led to the passage of the CROWN Act. De'Andre Arnold was told to cut his long locs back then, and he and others sued the district.

RELATED: Houston-area teen reacts to new Texas law banning hair discrimination after inspiring the movement

DeAndre Arnold, a Houston-area student who inspired the movement banning race-based hair discrimination, reacts to Texas' new law.

Rep. Ron Reynolds, D-Missouri City, was one of the authors of the legislation.

"Absolutely zero excuse for this school district that knows the policy to do this all over again," Reynolds said. "It feels like deja vu."

The school district handbook forbids male students from having hair that extends below the eyebrows or earlobes or worn in a style where hair extends below the top of a T-shirt collar.

A district spokesperson on Thursday said the hair length rule "is not in conflict with the CROWN Act."

"The vaguer the law, the more challenges you can expect," Attorney Peyton Peebles said.

SEE ALSO: Teen who inspired 'CROWN Act' testifies at Texas Legislature

DeAndre Arnold, the teen who was kept out of high school graduation over the length of his hair, made the next step on a state bill that would ban discrimination over dress in schools and work places.

Peebles points out that the CROWN Act doesn't specifically mention hair length, but it could be implied.

"Length could be a way to discriminate against certain hairstyles without being openly discriminatory," he explained. "It has the effect of preventing somebody from wearing a hairstyle that they may otherwise want to wear."

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