By Darius Spearman (africanelements)
In a recent and contentious development, Barbers Hill ISD Superintendent Greg Poole publicly defended the repeated suspension of Darryl George, an 18-year-old student, over his hairstyle in a full-page Houston Chronicle ad. This defense, emphasizing the need for conformity for unity, is now at the center of a heated debate and legal battle involving the CROWN Act, which prohibits discrimination based on hair texture and style (NewsOne).
After relocating to the district, George encountered suspension for wearing his locs unpinned and below his eyebrows, a violation of the school’s dress code. Consequently, officials referred him to the disciplinary alternative education program EPIC from October 12 through November 29 (NewsOne).
In retaliation, George’s family filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against Texas Governor Greg Abbott, Attorney General Ken Paxton, and the school district. They assert that these suspensions breach the state’s CROWN Act, effective from September 1, 2021, aiming to prevent discrimination in schools and workplaces based on hair texture and style (Houston Public Media).
Darryl George’s attorney, Allie Booker, highlighted his resilience in the face of adversity:
“He’s not going to break. He’s strong … He’s like, ‘I’m not going to cut my hair, but I just can’t believe I’m going through this’” (NewsOne).
Furthermore, the school district has initiated a lawsuit seeking clarification on whether its dress code conflicts with the CROWN Act. Superintendent Poole upholds that the dress code is lawful and essential for teaching students about conformity. However, this policy has ignited controversy, especially given past incidents where the school’s hair policy faced allegations of discrimination (Houston Public Media).
About the author:
Darius Spearman is a Professor of Black Studies at San Diego City College, where he has been pursuing his love of teaching since 2007. He is the author of several books, including Between The Color Lines: A History of African Americans on the California Frontier Through 1890. You can visit Darius online at africanelements.org