But Williams’ locks became a problem after the 17-year-old moved from Cincinnati, Ohio, to East Bernard, 50 miles from Houston, Texas, in February. Her new school’s dress code policy stated that “braided hair or rows of corn will not be allowed”, a policy that went against her very sense of self.
“Once you cut that hair, you cut your line to your ancestors, you cut your line, you cut everything,” Williams’ mother Desiree Bullock said. “And that’s just not an option… We don’t think of them as dreadlocks because we don’t dread them, we love them.”
The school’s student handbook, where the district’s hair policy is stated, states that “the boy’s hair may not extend below the eyebrows, below the top of the ears, or below a shirt collar. conventional straight, and should not exceed an inch difference between the length of the hair on the side and the length of the hair on top.”
Bullock told CNN that getting Williams to change his hairstyle to comply with the policy isn’t an option for either of them.
CNN obtained a copy of the manual, which was removed from the district’s website. The manual goes on to state that “this includes, but is not limited to, high hairstyles, side-swept cuts, and long hair that hangs down the shaved sides or back of the shaved head. This also includes mules and mules in the making. Braided hair or cornrows will not be permitted. No extremes in hairstyles.
CNN has repeatedly attempted to reach East Bernard High School and the East Bernard Independent School District for comment, but has received no response.
Bullock hoped that after meeting Williams in person the school would allow some waiver of the policy, but the school administration simply referred them to the student handbook for the dress code policy.
She then filed a religious exemption application on her son’s behalf with the district superintendent, but it was denied.
“The exemption request you filed has not been granted at this time,” East Bernard Independent School District superintendent Courtney Hudgins said in an email response to Bullock. “Assuming children can meet the dress code requirements, as well as all necessary registration paperwork, they are encouraged to register with our District Registrar. Please contact the Registrar to schedule an appointment for registration. registration. If you have specific questions regarding the dress code, please contact the campus director.”
Bullock responded by asking for clarification on how the district made its decision, but received no response.
“East Bernard ISD’s hair policy is deeply discriminatory and needs to be changed,” ACLU of Texas attorney Brian Klosterboer told CNN in a statement. “The policy contains explicit gender discrimination that recent court rulings have found unconstitutional and violates Title IX, and it also explicitly prohibits ‘braided hair or rows/twisted locks,’ which is an indicator of racial discrimination and disproportionately harms black students in the district.”
“I have a really bad stomach ache,” she said. “I feel like (the district’s hair policy) needs to change, I feel like it’s awful and I feel like it’s only for kids or African Americans .”
Williams would be entering his freshman year of high school, a pivotal year for many high schoolers as a result of college prep, Bullock said, and feels bad because he’s missing out on opportunities to race on the track and make his mark. noticed by scouts for college scholarships.
Hair discrimination in schools spreads across the country
The bill is now heading to the Senate, where Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey is sponsoring the House version of the bill.