Texas high school policy no braiding or twisting hair kept teen out of school, mom says

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.”

In Texas, students generally must attend the school district where they reside. Transferring to another district is not a sustainable option at this time, Bullock said, and in the meantime she is homeschooling Williams and her two sisters.

“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 .”

Only 6.1% of students in the district are black, according to the Texas Education Agency.

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

Last month, the US House of Representatives passed the CROWN Act, which stands for “Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair” and aims to protect against biases based on hair texture and protective styles. , including highlights, cornrows, twists, braids, bantu knots and afros.
US House passes CROWN Act that would ban race-based hair discrimination

The bill is now heading to the Senate, where Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey is sponsoring the House version of the bill.

The CROWN Act is already in effect in more than a dozen states, according to the Pew Research Center, after California first passed it in 2019. Massachusetts recently presented its version of the CROWN Act to the State House and is now heading to the State Senate.
However, many states have not passed formal legislation, making Williams’ experience a common experience, with more black students claiming they were penalized for their hair.
In August 2020, U.S. District Court Judge George C. Hanks, Jr. issued a preliminary injunction requiring the Barbers Hill Independent School District in Mont Belvieu, Texas to allow Kaden Bradford to attend school and participate to extracurricular activities without cutting their hair.
Bradford’s cousin, DeAndre Arnold, was also suspended from school for having long hair and was told he couldn’t attend his graduation ceremony unless he cut his hair.


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