A Texas school has come under intense pressure after it threatened to suspend an 18-year-old student from graduating over his dreadlocks.
The student, Deandre Arnold, has been attending school in the Barbers Hill independent school district for 10 years.
KHOU 11 reports that Barbers Hill High School instructed Arnold to cut his dreadlocks to a shorter length or miss the opportunity to graduate.
While the black community in the U.S. has categorized this as a clear case of racial discrimination, school officials are claiming it is a long-standing policy that has nothing to do with race or ethnicity.
“The dress code is designed by white people for white people and is damaging to Black bodies,” Black Lives Matter activist Ashton Woods said.
Early this week, several concerned people and activists joined the Arnold family as they addressed the Barbers Hill school board. Their hope is that they can come to a resolution.
“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,” stated Gary Monroe, with the United Urban Alumni Association.
Despite the persuasion, the board insists that the issue is not a racial one but one stemming from a rule instituted decades ago.
“There is no dress code policy that prohibits any cornrow or any other method of wearing the hair, our policy limits the length. It’s been that way for 30 years,” stated Superintendent Greg Poole.
According to its website, Barber Hills ISD has a student population of 5, 379 students – 70.6% of the students are white while 3.1% are black.
Arnold, who is a senior at Barbers Hill High School told Click 2 Houston that he wants to honor his family’s Trinidadian culture by wearing long dreadlocks.
He said that at school, he always wears his hair up, away from his shoulders and ears. But a dress code change over winter break now bans that style as well.
“They say that even (when) my hair is up, if it were to be down it would be not in compliance with the dress code. However, I don’t take it down in the school,” he told Click 2 Houston.