Caribbean Roots Teen’s School Suspension Over Dreads Goes Viral

DeAndre Arnold's roots extend to Trinidad.
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News Americas, HOUSTON, Texas, Fri. Jan. 24, 2020: The story of a Houston-born, Caribbean roots teen, who was suspended from school unless after he refused to cut his dreads, has gone viral.

DeAndre Arnold, a 17-year-old senior at Barbers Hill High School in Mont Belvieu, about 30 miles east of Houston, told NBC affiliate KPRC of Houston that his hair had been in compliance with school rules until recently, when he faced in-school suspension after he refused to cut it.

Arnold’s father is from Trinidad and Tobago and he said he’s worn dreadlocks for years like a lot of men in his family and always followed the school’s dress code by tying them up.

“I really like that part of Trinidadian culture,” he told the station. “So, I mean I really embrace that.”

But the school says he can’t walk in his high school graduation ceremony unless he cuts his dreadlocks to meet the school district’s dress code instituted after the Christmas break and three months before graduation.

The Barbers Hill Independent School District rules now stipulate “hair must be clean and well groomed” and not extend on male students, at any time, below the eyebrows, the ear lobes or the top of a T-shirt collar — including when let down.”

On Wednesday, Houston Texans wide receiver Deandre Hopkins tweeted his support for the teen to his 459,000 followers, urging him to “never cut” his dreadlocks, helping the story to go viral.

In a statement posted on its Twitter account, the district said that it does allow dreadlocks. “However, we DO have a community supported hair length policy & have had for decades,” the statement said. “BH is a State leader with high expectations in ALL areas!”

On Twitter, many weighed in calling the policy discriminatory and urging the district to rethink the decision.