Texas Looking at New Law That Would Protect Certain Hairstyles
It's not every day my hometown of Troy makes headlines, but it happened earlier this month when an 11-year-old boy's braided hairstyle landed him in ISS for almost two weeks because it included a top knot that violated Troy ISD's dress code.
Maddox Cozart's mother said her son was trying to explore and express the African roots of his father, and that the dress code at Troy's Raymond Mays Middle School is outdated and discriminatory. Her son was allowed to return to class after school officials looked at his hair and gave it the OK because the bun in his hair "laid down in the back".
It was the latest story from Texas to stir debate about the way certain hairstyles are perceived and restricted at schools and businesses, and some Texas lawmakers are now trying to pass legislation that would ban such restrictions.
Texas House Bill 392 is aimed at ending "discrimination on the basis of hair texture or protective hairstyle associated with race" in Texas schools and workplaces. According to the text, "protective hairstyles" includes braids, locks, and twists.
The Texas Tribune reports that bill was the subject of a hearing before the House State Affairs Committee Thursday morning.
State Representative Rhetta Bowers, a Democrat from Garland who helped author the bill, said "I believe people should not be forced to divest themselves of their racial cultural identity by changing their natural hair in order to adapt to their workplace, school, or home. People should not miss out on opportunities or success because of the way they choose to wear their natural hair."
If the bill passes, Texas will join 9 other states that have adopted similar legislation.
I've spoken with a few friends on Facebook who still live in Troy and have kids in the school system. They were mostly in agreement that the hair policy is outdated, but some weren't happy with the way the situation was handled on either side.
In the grand scheme of things, it at least prompted further discussion of whether or not someone's hairstyle, particularly one rooted in their ethnic heritage, is distracting or disruptive and warrants separating a student from their peers and seating them in a little cubicle for two weeks.
What do you think? Should the Texas legislature pass a law banning hairstyle discrimination, or should it be left up to schools and employers to do the right thing on their own after hearing from concerned citizens?