Texas Judge Rules Barbers Hill ISD Didn’t Violate CROWN Act, Can Suspend Student for Hair Length 

Since Aug. 31, 2023, Darryl George, a junior at Barbers Hill High School, has been suspended for wearing his hair in locs. Despite the passage of a Texas version of the CROWN Act, which went into effect in September, Barbers Hill ISD has argued that the length of Darryl’s locs, not the specific style, allowed it to punish him for violating the school’s dress code without the district violating the CROWN Act.  

State District Judge Chap Cain III ruled in favor of the school district, saying its policy is “not discriminatory because the CROWN Act does not say that exemptions for long hair can be made for hairstyles that are protected by the law, including locs.” He argued that by siding in favor of Darryl and his family, he would be legislating from the bench and that it went against his constitutional duty to do so.  

In response, Darryl’s family filed a complaint with the Texas Education Agency and a federal lawsuit against the district.  

Before the trial, Darryl spoke about the importance of wearing his locs, saying it’s, “how I feel closer to my people. It’s how I feel closer to my ancestors. It’s just me. It’s how I am.” Self-expression through hair allows students not only to feel closer to their family and heritage but encourages them to take pride in their identities. By removing the ability for students to get an education based on their self-expression, our schools are failing the same people they vow to protect.  

State Rep. Ron Reynolds has said he would file a new bill in the Texas Legislature to amend Texas’ CROWN Act and include protections for hair length.   

If you’d like to get involved, The Crown Coalition has resources available on their website regarding hair discrimination and research. AFT’s Share My Lesson also has free resources to discuss this issue with your students. Additionally, you can reach out to your federal legislators to voice your opinion in support of passing the CROWN Act nationwide.