A black Texas high school student who was suspended from school for the way he wears his hair, along with his mother, filed a federal civil rights lawsuit Saturday against the state’s governor and attorney general.
Darryl George, 17, and his mother, Dareshia George, allege in their lawsuit that schools and employers discriminate against people with hairstyles that are “commonly or historically associated with a race.” He said state leaders had failed to enforce a new Texas law that made it illegal.
The law, known as the Crown Act, came into effect on September 1st. The day before, Daryl was suspended from Barbers Hill High School in Mont Belvieu, Texas, after officials said his hair violated the school district’s dress code. According to the complaint.
Darryl, a high school senior, has locks, long rope-like hair that he fastens to his head like a barrel roll. He wears his locs as an “expression of cultural pride,” according to the lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas.
As of Saturday, Darryl remained suspended from the high school about 30 miles east of Houston. His mother said his suspension has him sitting in a chair in his cubicle and being brought to work.
of Barbers Hill Independent School District. Dress code The law states that male students may not grow their hair “at any time below the eyebrows or earlobes” or “below the collar of a T-shirt.”
If Daryl’s hair is not pinned or pulled back, his hair will be lower than that length.
School district spokesman David Bloom told the New York Times this month that the dress code “does not conflict” with the Crown Act. That’s because regulations allow for protective hairstyles as long as they don’t exceed the allowed length when worn down.
The district, which is not named as a defendant in the federal lawsuit, filed a lawsuit last week asking a state court to clarify whether its dress code complies with the Crown Act. KTRK-TVA local news channel reported.
“The school district does not intend to increase current disciplinary actions for continued violations of the school district’s grooming policy pending a court ruling on whether the school district’s policy is legal,” the school district said in a statement to the news station. Stated.
The George family’s lawsuit seeks a temporary restraining order to halt Darryl’s suspension while the case proceeds in federal court.
The complaint alleges that Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton condoned the school’s violation of the Crown Act. Neither office immediately responded to requests for comment Sunday. Bloom did not respond to requests for comment.
Abbott and Paxton are also accused of “intentionally or recklessly” causing emotional distress to George and Darryl by failing to intervene, according to the complaint. The stress of the situation made George feel unwell and he suffered a series of seizures, according to the suit.
The lawsuit also alleges that Darryl’s protections under federal civil rights law are violated because the dress code policy disproportionately affects black male students.
Politicians and activists who support George’s family have criticized the school.
State Rep. Retta Andrews Bowers, a Democrat and the primary author of the CROWN Act, said in a statement Friday that school districts are “trying to find loopholes to circumvent the law and perpetuate hair discrimination.” and requested that the disciplinary action be suspended. against Darryl.
at least 24 states It has enacted similar laws that make it illegal to discriminate against students and workers based on their hairstyle.
In May 2020, two cousins, Deandre Arnold and Kayden Bradford, who attended high school in the same district as Darryl, were suspended from school because of the length of their dreadlocks. Their families filed a lawsuit, which is still ongoing.