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Texas High School Suspends Student, Threatens Not To Let Him Walk In Graduation Unless He Cuts Off His Dreadlocks

Texas High School Suspends Student, Threatens Not To Let Him Walk In Graduation Unless He Cuts Off His Dreadlocks
KHOU 11/YouTube

For his graduation, an African American student was forced to choose between walking with the rest of his class or compromising his cultural identity.

De'Andre Arnold from Texas had been growing out his dreadlocks for the past eight years in the Trinidadian style and was told to cut them off by his school last month.

Now, the senior has been suspended and will not be allowed to walk in his graduation unless he cuts his dreadlocks off.

Family members and supporters of Arnold gathered at the Barbers Hill Independent School District headquarters on Martin Luther King Day during a school board meeting and argued over the outdated dress code.

The board meetings have not had more than two speakers in their history.

That changed on Monday night when sixteen people showed up to speak out against the "racially insensitive" dress code affecting Arnold.

Arnold's father, who attended the charged meeting, said it was a "Black and White issue," and a supporter echoed his sentiment by adding:

"This dress code was designed by White people for White people that is damaging to Black bodies."

You can watch the video of the KHOU 11 report here.

A Barbers Hill ISD board member denied the controversy was a racial issue and said there was no policy against cornrows or "any method of the wearing of the hair."

He also emphasized that the more than 30-year old policy limits the length of one's hair, not the cultural style.

Twitter called out the antiquated policy.

The district – which prides itself on excellence – says the dreadlocks are in violation of its dress code according to this written stipulation.

"Male students' hair will not extend, at any time, below the eyebrows or below the ear lobes. Male students' hair must not extend below the top of a t-shirt collar or be gathered or worn in a style that would allow the hair to extend below the top of a t-shirt collar, below the eyebrows, or below the ear lobes when let down."

A handful agreed with the district and asked not to make any exceptions while a good majority rejected the alleged racist policy.

People asked why the district would wait until three months before graduation to enforce the dress code.

Arnold's father proposed an ultimatum:

"They have 48 hours to come up with a resolution."
"If not, we're going to take this to court, because they're in violation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act that pertains to discriminating against somebody in regards to their religion."

People in support of Arnold on social media told him not to give in to the bullying by the school district and said that the style of his hair should not get in the way of his future.

Barbers Hill ISD issued the following statement on Tuesday.

"Barbers Hill ISD has a long standing dress code, but we absolutely allow dreadlocks."
"What we do not allow is any action that circumvents or violates the provision regarding hair length."
"The student in question was NEVER forbidden from attending school."
"The U.S. Constitution allows a school board the right to implement local community expectations, and Barbers Hill ISD's continual academic and extra-curricular successes are a direct result of our communities' high expectations."