Last Updated on September 24, 2023 by Robert C. Hoopes
Title: Texas High School Faces Lawsuit Over Alleged Failure to Enforce Anti-Discrimination Law
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The family of a Black high school student in Texas has taken legal action against the governor and attorney general, filing a federal civil rights lawsuit. They claim that the officials failed to enforce a new law that prohibits discrimination based on hairstyles. The case revolves around Darryl George, a junior at Barbers Hill High School, who has been serving an in-school suspension since August 31 due to his dreadlocks, which allegedly violate the district’s dress code.
Supporters of George argue that the suspension breaches the recently enacted CROWN Act, which became effective on September 1. They further claim that the governor and attorney general have neglected their responsibility to protect George’s constitutional rights. The family’s lawsuit aims to obtain a temporary restraining order to halt George’s in-school suspension for the duration of the legal proceedings.
In addition to the federal lawsuit, a formal complaint was lodged with the Texas Education Agency against the school district officials, asserting harassment and mistreatment and stating that the suspension violates the CROWN Act. In response, the school district has filed its own lawsuit in state court to seek clarification on whether their dress code restrictions infringe upon the CROWN Act.
The CROWN Act, designed to combat race-based hair discrimination, safeguards various hairstyles including Afros, braids, dreadlocks, twists, and Bantu knots. State Representative Rhetta Bowers, who authored Texas’ version of the CROWN Act, has called on the school district to terminate George’s suspension, highlighting that his chosen hairstyle deserves protection under the state law.
Notably, Barbers Hill High School has faced legal challenges in the past regarding its hair-related dress code limitations. In 2020, two other Black male students brought a case against the district due to rules regarding their dreadlocks. A federal judge ultimately ruled that the hair policy amounted to discrimination.
The lawsuit filed by George’s family now serves as the most recent legal action taken in response to his suspension. As the case unfolds, it will undoubtedly spark discussions surrounding racial discrimination, individual expression, and the proper enforcement of anti-discrimination laws within educational institutions.