School tells teen to cut dreadlocks or miss graduation

School tells teen to cut dreadlocks or miss graduation

A school has told a teenager that if he does not cut his dreadlocks, he won't be allowed to walk at graduation.

Eighteen-year-old Deandre Arnold has been growing his dreadlocks for 10 years, and until recently, his school in the Barbers Hill independent school district of Texas, has never had a problem with it. But a recent change to the school handbook meant that he was no longer permitted to tie his dreadlocks back and was told to cut them off completely.

This was how suddenly Deandre was told to cut his hair: 

As per the original school handbook, boys were permitted to have hair that went past their ears, touched their shirt collars, or hung in their eyes, and boys like Deandre were allowed to tie their hair back.

Now, many people are slamming the Texas school district for what they are calling racial discrimination.

According to KHOU11, Black Lives Matter activist Ashton Woods said: "The dress code is designed by white people for white people and is damaging to black bodies.”

Gary Monroe, executive director of the United Urban Alumni Association, added: "This is a black and white issue… Deandre [and] his family should not have to go through this, but I expect it from a board that has zero diversity."

Woods told Yahoo Lifestyle: "Every trustee on the board is white and has been on the board over 10 years. And they have got to go because if not, they're going to continue to harm these black and brown children."

However, the school insists that the school's updated dress code has nothing to do with race.

Superintendent Greg Poole told KHOU: "There is no dress code policy that prohibits any cornrow or any other method of wearing of the hair. Our policy limits the length. It's been that way for 30 years."

This man has been growing his dreadlocks for 40 years: 

The 2020 Barbers Hill independent school district student handbook: states: "The district's dress code is established to teach grooming and hygiene, instill discipline, maintain a safe and positive learning environment, prevent disruption, avoid safety hazards, and teach respect for authority."

But Woods told Yahoo Lifestyle that she does not understand why the policy is suddenly being enforced: "Both myself and the parents are asking, 'Why now?' Deandre has been growing his locs for the last 10 years in the same exact school district, and we don't understand how his hair can disrupt him nor his peers."

"White people don't get to determine what is and isn't racism, and instead of exemplifying allyship, what I saw was a bunch of white people 'white-peopling' and messing over an exemplary student - which shouldn't be a qualifier - by cutting his hair as a punitive measure for negative reinforcement," she continued.

"I will not stop fighting until they stop harassing him because we have a responsibility to defend and protect him."

Monroe told KHOU11: "They have 48 hours to come up with a resolution or we're taking this to federal court."

Now Deandre's family are simply hoping that the debacle doesn't have a detrimental effect on his future.

"We're here for Deandre, but it's about more than that," Deandre's mother, Sandy Arnold, said. "This is about all the other Deandres that could come through Barbers Hill."