Family Of Black Teen Suspended For Wearing Dreadlocks In A Texas School Sues Texas Officials


The family of a suspended Black high school student outside Houston—who was suspended for his hairstyle—filed a federal civil rights suit against Texas state officials including Gov. Greg Abbott (R-Texas), multiple outlets reported Saturday.

Key Facts

The family of Darryl George, a 17-year-old high school junior at Barbers Hill High School in the city of Mont Belvieu, east of Houston, sued both Abbott and Texas’ Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton, claiming the dress code violation violates Texas’ CROWN Act, which prohibits school discrimination based on hair textures and styles “commonly or historically associated with race.”

School officials gave George an in-school suspension at the beginning of the school year on August 31, claiming his dreadlocks violated the school’s dress code, which prohibits male students from allowing their hair to drop below their eyebrows, earlobes or the top of their shirt collars.

In the suit, filed in Texas Southern District Court, George’s mother, Darresha George argued Abbott and Paxton failed to enforce the CROWN Act.

Darresha George had also filed a complaint with the school system earlier this week, telling Houston CBS affiliate KHOU that her son is “going to go to school every day” and “not violat[e] any dress code,” while the state’s Child Protective Services launched an investigation into the suspension.

Surprising Fact

George’s suspension came just three months after Abbott signed the CROWN Act (Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair) into law, barring race-based discrimination based on hairstyles at schools, as well as workplaces and in housing policies. The act went into law on September 1, one day after George was suspended.

Key Background

The recently implemented Crown Act prohibits discrimination based on “braids, locks and twists”—George wears his hair in dreadlocks, making him the second Black student in the school district to be suspended over their hair, following a similar incident with a student named De’Andre Arnold in 2020 (Arnold later switched schools). George’s suspension has since garnered national attention and sparked an outcry over the school’s policy, including from Texas state Sen. Borris Miles, who called the suspension a “backdoor method to continue discriminating against students with natural hair.” According to a 2020 resolution by the National Association of the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), policies that restrict or ban Black hairstyles constitute racial discrimination “because of the close association of natural hair or hairstyles with, and the unique and heavy burden imposed on, Black men and women.”

Big Number

24. That’s the number of states that have implemented versions of the CROWN Act, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

Further Reading

Texas made it illegal to punish students for dreadlocks. A school is testing the limits of the law. (Forbes)

A Black student’s family sues Texas officials over his suspension for his hairstyle (Associated Press)

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