A high school in Texas has refused to admit a Black teenager because his hairstyle is against its dress code policy, his mom has said. According to CNN, Dyree Williams has worn his hair in twists, braids as well as locks since childhood. But his natural hairstyle is currently preventing him from being admitted to a high school in East Bernard after moving from Cincinnati.
Per his new school’s dress code policy, students aren’t allowed to have “braided hair or corn rows.”
“Once you cut that hair off, you cut off your line to your ancestors, you cut off your lineage, you cut off everything,” said Williams’ mother, Desiree Bullock. “And just it’s not an option … We don’t consider them dreadlocks because we don’t dread them we love them.”
The school district’s policy on student hairstyles states that “boy’s hair may not extend below the eyebrows, below the tops of the ears or below a conventional standup shirt collar, and must not be more than one-inch difference in the length of the hair on the side to the length of the hair on top.”
Bullock said she hoped the district would grant her son admission after the school’s administration met him. But they once again referred them to the student’s handbook for its policy on dress codes. The school also denied a religious exemption application Bullock filed for her son.
“The exemption request you filed has not been granted at this time,” East Bernard Independent School District’s Superintendent Courtney Hudgins told Bullock in an email response. “Assuming the children can meet the dress code requirements, as well as all necessary paperwork for enrollment, they are welcome to enroll with our district registrar. Please contact the registrar to make an appointment for enrollment. If you have any specific questions regarding the dress code, please contact the campus principal.”
But despite the conditions, Bullock is adamant her son wouldn’t change his hairstyle. The school district’s student handbook which contains the said policy has since been removed from its website. Bullock is also yet to receive a response after she asked the district to explain how it arrived at the said decision, CNN reported.
“East Bernard ISD’s hair policy is deeply discriminatory and needs to be changed,” ACLU of Texas attorney Brian Klosterboer told the news outlet. “The policy contains explicit gender discrimination that recent court decisions have found to be unconstitutional and violate Title IX, and it also explicitly bans ‘braided hair or twisted rows/strands,’ which is a proxy for race discrimination and disproportionately harms Black students in the district.”
Per the Texas Education Agency, the school district Williams is trying to gain admission to has a Black student population of 6.1%. “I feel really sick to my stomach,” Bullock said. “I feel like (the district’s hair policy) needs to change, I feel like it’s horrible and I feel like it’s only toward African American children or people.”
Bullock added her son is entering his high school junior year – which is a crucial year for students who want to enter college. She said she’s sad because her son is missing out on chances to run track and gain attention from scouts for college scholarships.