After years of hard work and dedication, Treyvion Gray won’t be allowed to walk in his graduation ceremony unless he cuts his hair.
The 18-year-old calls his locs an “expression of his Black identity and culture,” and thus he refuses to cut his hair which means he is not allowed to participate in the ceremony. Instead, The Root reports that he will be headed to court to sue the Needville Independent School District as well as its board of trustees and superintendent. Gray’s high school principal and assistant principal are also included in the suit.
According to the lawsuit, Gray has been “disproportionately targeted and penalized” because the school’s rulebook completely ostracizes Black students who are simply wearing their hair in its natural state.
Per the district dress code policy, growing hair past one’s ears and eyebrows is strictly forbidden for male students. The high school senior believes that this act is both racially and sexually discriminating.
“The length of locs have no bearing on NISD Black students’ capacity to learn, yet the wholly arbitrary Dress and Hair Policy restricts the mobility of Black students in public and private spaces, deny them equal educational opportunities, and strike at the freedom and dignity of the NISD Black student population,” says the lawsuit.
Gray’s case comes on the heels of yet another Black student in Texas who is not able to enroll into school for having locs.
In 2019 California became the first state to pass the CROWN Act, which stands for “Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair.” The law “prohibits race-based hair discrimination which is the denial of employment and educational opportunities because of hair texture or protective hairstyles including braids, locs, twists, or bantu knots,” according to the official website.
Other states that have passed the CROWN Act include Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, and New Jersey. Amended versions of discrimination laws have been passed in Illinois, Maryland, Virginia, and Washington.