Black teenagers sue Texas school district after being suspended for wearing their hair in dreadlocks

Sanjana Varghese
Friday 29 May 2020 10:15
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(Getty Images)

The mothers of two black teenagers are suing their school district in Texas after the teenagers were suspended for wearing their hair in dreadlocks.

DeAndre Arnold, and his cousin KB (who is a minor and so not identified) were both monitored and reprimanded at school for wearing their hair in dreadlocks earlier this year.

Arnold was told that he would not be able to walk across the stage at his high school graduation without cutting off his locs, according to the lawsuit filed by the mothers of the two boys, both of them were given an in school suspension about their dreadlocks, reports Insider.

The mothers allege that DeAndre and KB suffered racial and gender discrimination, due to the school’s district rules, and that this violated the constitutional rights of the children.

"These grooming policies ultimately present black students with an unfair choice: either wear their hair in natural formations and be deprived of adequate educational resources or conform their hair to predominant Eurocentric hair aesthetics to receive the same educational opportunities as their white peers," the lawsuit said.

Both of the boys eventually enrolled in a new high school after these incidents, because they wanted to be able to go to school without worrying about what would happen as a result of their hair choices.

The lawsuit also alleges that the school’s handbook on dress code and grooming continually changed, despite the fact that DeAndre and KB tried to follow the rules.

In 2016-17, the school handbook didn’t let male students’ hair extend past the eyebrows, and when DeAndre’s locs started to grow, he pinned them back with hair accessories so that they wouldn’t be in the way.

The next year, the district added a new rule that stopped male students from wearing hair accessories, and the year after, they added a rule saying that men’s hair couldn’t be long at all.

The lawsuit alleges that DeAndre and KB continually tried to keep up with the rules, but that teachers "routinely" took them out of school activities to berate them about their hair. The mothers are demanding that the policy set out by the school district is remanded.

Arnold has said that he won’t change his hairstyle because it honours his Trinidadian culture.

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