A Texas high school student made national headlines this week after school officials demanded he cut his dreadlocks. The black teen, named DeAndre Arnold, refused and was subsequently suspended. He now risks missing his high school graduation this year if he does not shorten his hairstyle.
"They say that even though my hair is up and I follow all of the regulations, that if it was down, it would be out of dress code," DeAndre told NBC affiliate KPRC. "Not that I'm out of dress code, but if I was to take it down, I would be out of dress code, which doesn't make any sense. I don't take it down at school."
DeAndre's father is from Trinidad, and told the outlet his son's hairstyle was part of their culture. The family also said their son had always abided by the school's dress code by keeping his hair up; however, she says DeAndre's hair didn't become an issue until after winter break, when the Barbers Hill Independent School District implemented a new dress code policy.
Per the district's student handbook:
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.
Barbers Hill's Superintendent Greg Poole denied the claims that the dress code policy had changed. But, as pointed out by ABC News, public minutes from a recent board meeting show "Revisions to the Student Dress Code/Procedures for processing requests" was on the agenda.
"There were many clarifications, but no substantive changes," Poole said, adding that DeAndre's mother was previously told her son's hair length was violating dress code policy.
The Arnold's have received a wave of support from people across the country, while many have accused the school of discrimination and racial insensitivity. Among the former group is Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who tweeted a quick, but encouraging, message to the teen: "Never cut your locks Deandre Arnold," he tweeted.
As of now, it appears school officials are sticking by their initial decision of prohibiting DeAndre from attending his high school graduation with his current hair length. When asked if she would consider shortening her son's locs, Sandy Arnold responded, "Absolutely not. This is his belief. This is a part of who he is. This is his culture. This is what we believe."