Last Updated on September 25, 2023 by Robert C. Hoopes
Title: Texas High School Student’s Suspension Sparks Civil Rights Lawsuit
The family of Darryl George, a 17-year-old Black high school student from Texas, has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against Governor Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton after George was suspended over his dreadlocks. The lawsuit, which has gained significant attention, alleges that the student’s constitutional rights were violated and seeks a temporary restraining order to lift George’s in-school suspension while the case is pending.
According to school officials, George’s dreadlocks violate the district’s dress code, prompting the suspension. However, George’s family and their attorney argue that his hairstyle does not breach the dress code and is protected by the state’s newly enacted CROWN (Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair) Act, which came into effect on September 1.
The legal action claims that both Governor Abbott and Attorney General Paxton failed to protect George’s constitutional rights, specifically regarding discrimination and violations of freedom of speech and expression. The lawsuit contends that the school district’s grooming policy disproportionately affects Black males and that such regulations have no connection to learning or safety.
Simultaneously, George’s mother has filed a formal complaint with the Texas Education Agency, accusing school officials of harassment and mistreatment. As a result, the agency is conducting a thorough investigation into the matter.
In response to the controversy, the Barbers Hill school district has filed its own lawsuit in state court seeking clarification on whether its dress code restrictions regarding student hair length contradict the CROWN Act. The CROWN Act, designed to combat race-based hair discrimination, has been implemented in 24 states, including Texas.
State Representative Rhetta Bowers, the author of Texas’ version of the CROWN Act, has publicly called for an end to George’s suspension, stating that his chosen hairstyle is protected by the new law.
As the case unfolds, the civil rights lawsuit has shed light on the broader issue of hair discrimination in schools and society. It remains to be seen how the court will interpret the CROWN Act and whether George’s rights will be upheld.
For now, George’s family and supporters are hopeful that their legal action will not only secure justice for him but also serve as a precedent for protecting the rights of students of color in the future.