Teen Suspended For Refusing To Cut Dreadlocks For High School Graduation
A teenage boy was suspended and told he couldn’t take part in his graduation ceremony unless he cut his dreadlocks.
Deandre Arnold, a senior at Barbers Hill High School in Mont Belvieu, Texas, is now fighting to change his school district’s dress code, which bans male students from having hair longer than their ears or eyebrows.
The student, alongside his parents and members of the Black Lives Matter organisation, attended a school board meeting on Monday, January 20, to voice their opposition regarding Deandre’s suspension.
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Deandre’s family is from Trinidad, and the high school student says a lot of men in his culture grow dreadlocks. ‘I really like that part of Trinidadian culture; I really embrace that,’ he told Click 2 Houston.
His mother said the teenager has had dreadlocks for years and has always followed the school’s dress code, which used to be that male student’s hair should be off the shoulders, above the earlobes and out of the eyes.
Deandre wears his hair in compliance with the dress code, tying it up so it’s off his shoulders and out of his eyes, but recently his mother said the school district changed the dress code policy.
After the Christmas holidays, the teenager said he returned to school to find that even when his hair was tied up, ‘it would not be in compliance with the dress code’ – despite the fact he doesn’t wear it down when he’s at school.
At Monday night’s meeting, Deandre’s family and several activists took to the podium to express their discontent with the district’s current dress code policy.
One activist said, as per Click 2 Houston:
Let’s stop with the dress code. This not about dress code, this is about policing black boys.
Despite several attempts by the family to engage the board into a conversation, the board chose not to place the topic on the upcoming agendas for further discussion.
A written statement by the Barbers Hill School District said:
We do have a community supported hair length policy and have had for decades. Barbers Hill is a state leader with high expectations in all areas!
While the school insists their decision is not about race, hair-based discrimination against natural styles – including dreadlocks and braids – can target black communities.
Often, dreadlocks have cultural and historical significance for those wearing the style, and telling teenagers such as Deandre they’re not able to wear them effectively tells them they can’t properly be a part of their culture.
Deandre’s family is currently exploring many different legal options, but at this point Deandre is still unable to graduate alongside his class in a few months.
Hopefully the school will reassess their decision and the teenager will be able to return to class, complete with his dreadlocks.
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