DeAndre Arnold, a high school senior at Barbers Hill High School in Mont Belvieu, Texas was recently told that he might not be able to participate in his graduation ceremony unless he cuts his dreadlocks. Arnold has had his hair in dreadlocks since seventh grade, and had no intentions of cutting them anytime soon. His Trinidadian descent is part of the reason why he chose that hairstyle, and he loves that he is able to express his Trinidadian roots through his locs. DeAndre’s family reached out to the school district and were told that they aren’t asking him to remove his locs, but they have to be a shorter length. Greg Poole, the superintendent of the Barber Hills Independent School District, said, “There is no dress code policy that prohibits any cornrow or any other method of wearing of the hair. Our policy limits the length. It’s been that way for 30 years.” According to the school’s handbook, the hair of male students “will not extend, at any time, below the eyebrows, or below the ear lobes.” Arnold has followed school policy for years, always making sure that he has his hair away from his eyes, earlobes and above his shoulders at all times. School officials never said anything towards Arnold until December of 2019, when the school changed policies regarding male students wearing adornments in their hair.
DeAndre Arnold’s fight for his hair is not unusual to the education system. Earlier in January, a Californian student faced an in school suspension because of his refusal to cut the hair that fell below his eyebrows, and there have been several other cases over the years regarding students not being able to attend school/participate in certain activities with their hairstyle of choice. Some believe that the school’s policies are discriminatory to people of certain races. Ashton Woods, a Black Lives Matter activist said, “The dress code is designed by white people for white people and is damaging to black bodies.” Arnold and his family will continue to fight until the school district comes up with a resolution that works for both parties.