NFL star DeAndre Hopkins spoke out in support of Deandre Arnold, the Texas teen who was told he had to cut his locs or he would not be allowed to walk during his upcoming graduation ceremony.
The Houston Texans wide receiver tweeted heartfelt advice to Arnold.
“Never cut your locks Deandre Arnold,” he stated.
Arnold’s story made headlines after officials at Barbers Hill High School in Mont Belvieu, Texas, sent him to in-school suspension due to the length of his locs. The 18-year-old has been growing his hair since he was in seventh grade, but his hair didn’t raise an issue until earlier this month.
“They said Deandre’s hair can’t touch the collar, ears or in the face,” his mother Sandy told KRIV. “It never really did, he’s always had it up.”
Arnold isn’t the only student at Barbers Hill High School experiencing pushback about his hair. Kaden Bradford, his 16-year-old cousin, was suspended because he also refused to cut his locs.
“My son is having the same issue [as Deandre],” Cindy Bradford, Kaden’s mother, told ABC News. “He’s a sophomore, he’s been growing his dreads out since sixth grade.”
Like Arnold, Kaden’s trouble started after he came back from Christmas break. Cindy tried to appease the school by getting Kaden’s hair professionally cornrowed, but the principal still demanded a haircut.
“He had [dreads] last year,” she said. “He took a headband and pushed them off his shoulders. [The school] said if he kept them up like that it was no problem.”
Gerry Wayne Monroe, executive director of United Urban Alumni Association, has been assisting the Arnolds and blames the hair controversy on Mont Belvieu’s lack of diversity. A mere 9 percent of Mont Belvieu’s residents are Black.
“The population of minorities is very, very small,” Monroe said.
The Arnold family said changes to the school district’s dress code are at the crux of the issue but school superintendent Greg Poole contends this is not the case. However, minutes from a school board meeting stated “Revisions to the Student Dress Code/Procedures for processing requests” were on the agenda.
Poole also insisted the policy isn’t discriminatory.
“The policy is not about cornrows or ethnicity,” Poole said. “There is no injustice being done.”