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Teen Suspended For Refusing To Cut Dreadlocks For High School Graduation

by : Lucy Connolly on : 22 Jan 2020 12:38
Texas Teen Suspended For Refusing To Cut Dreadlocks For High School GraduationTexas Teen Suspended For Refusing To Cut Dreadlocks For High School GraduationKHOU 11/Click 2 Houston

A teenage boy was suspended and told he couldn’t take part in his graduation ceremony unless he cut his dreadlocks.

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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.

You can find out more about this story below:

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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.

boy with dreadlocks suspended from schoolboy with dreadlocks suspended from schoolClick 2 Houston

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.

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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!

teenager suspended for having dreadlocksteenager suspended for having dreadlocksClick 2 Houston

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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Lucy Connolly

A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).

Topics: News, America, Black Lives Matter, discrimination, Dreadlocks, Education, high school, Racism, Texas, Trinidad

Credits

Click 2 Houston and 1 other
  1. Click 2 Houston

    Barbers Hill student sent to in-school suspension for refusing to cut his dreadlocks

  2. Click 2 Houston

    Dreadlocks length controversy heats up at the Barbers Hill board meeting